As summer interns for Code Platoon’s 12th Full-time cohort, Lima Platoon, we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the transition of 16 talented students from experienced military Veterans and spouses of Servicemembers into skilled web developers. We worked as TAs, nudging students to the correct answer when they were stuck on a problem or they had run into a creative block. Yet, “peer-tutors” might have been a better title for us, as we were closer to the students than the instructors in terms of experience.
Walking into this position, we didn’t fully understand the material ourselves. We’d familiarize ourselves with each topic about a week before the students learned it, and then we’d jump in to help. Django back-end development, React front-end development, and SQL strategies are just a few of the programming skills we learned along the way. This learning-teaching cycle not only helped us empathize with frustrated students but also reinforced the concepts in our own minds.
That said, the soft skills we’ve gained are possibly even more valuable, as we intend to incorporate them in both our careers and our everyday lives. As university students, we had almost no experience as true job seekers. Luckily, a large part of Code Platoon’s curriculum is dedicated to finding programming jobs and landing them. Building succinct resumes and LinkedIn profiles with the guidance of experienced programmers alongside the students, as well as witnessing dozens of mock interviews were some of the amazing opportunities, unique to this internship.
It was especially impressive to see how well Code Platoon’s staff and students adapted to the unexpected transition to a remote classroom. Although meeting everybody face-to-face would have been ideal, the instructors’ resilience and the student’s self-reliance were great examples of what it takes to be successful in tech. While COVID-19 certainly altered our experience, the ability to acclimate quickly to significant changes is one we hope will stay with us for life.
Despite the distance between us, through one-on-one instruction and general classroom conversation, we’ve been lucky to build relationships with each of our students. Although we never expected everybody to be cookie-cutter computer scientists, the variety in their lives still surprised us. Some of them walked into the classroom already comfortable with the frameworks we would learn, while others came from technology void pasts. Regardless of the different experience levels and paths that led students to Code Platoon, they all have one thing in common: they’re all motivated to learn and grow as web developers.
It has been a joy to work, teach, and learn with Lima Platoon. Their self-discipline provides further guidance for how we want to live our lives. We wish them the best in however they choose to apply their new knowledge!
Merrill O’Shaughnessy is one of Code Platoon’s summer interns and a T.A. for the full-stack web development course. She is currently studying computer science and mechanical engineering at Duke University and is interested in UX /UI design. Follow Merrill on LinkedIn or find her on Dribbble.
Gus Petito is one of Code Platoon’s summer interns and a T.A. for the full-stack web development course. He is interested in the theory and application of machine learning and data visualization/analysis. He studies mathematics and computer science at Cornell University. Follow Gus on LinkedIn.