Originally posted on February 20, 2013
It’s been quite a ride so far at Review Board, that’s for sure.
Jumping into a project the size of Review Board can be a daunting task, especially when many of the frameworks, languages, and features included in the project are new to learn or in use at a much more advanced level then what one is used to when dealing with class projects.
It’s almost natural as a student to sit back as an individual, take the time to research and browse the internet for hours on end to find an answer to question sets or programming roadblocks, because students like us are required to only work alone and not receive outside help.
Honestly, I’m sure I’m not the only one who heard the big, “Ask us questions, us mentors are here to help!” at the meetup — only to sink right back to the classic student-is-alone attitude once getting back to the realities of university. That combined with the struggles of course time dedication are definitely the death knell for any UCOSP project member.
However, after completing my first major task-set for Review Board, I’ve learned many things about languages, frameworks, development processes — you name it, the list goes on. But the two most important lessons that I’ve learned are definitely time management and using my resources. If you saw my schedule, you’d think I was insane, as it’s jam packed with school work, classes, and a high intensity, high hour part-time job. But somehow I’ve been able to set aside sections of time each week — whatever large chunk of time I can get — so that I always see myself moving forward on my tasks, as the last thing I want is to fall off for a week and not know where to get back up.
Finally, and most importantly, it’s all about asking questions. Use the mentors, they are like a dedicated Google just for your task. They aren’t marking you or assessing you — they are only helping you. Remember, this project is their project too, so they just want to make it better. Case and point, last night I was stuck on one of the final portions of my task, and my task is interesting as it doesn’t stay in one realm of the project, but instead encompasses just about every layer within the codebase, and thus is a whole lot to take in. Now, this part that I was stuck at led me down a path of uncertainty.
“Where is this error coming from?”
Well, before starting down what could have been a classic hour(s) long search-fest, I just popped the question down into IRC to see if it was familiar to anyone else, and it was amazing. Not only did the mentor (ChipX86) know exactly where the fix would be, but the location of the fix was in a place I didn’t even know existed, and definitely would never have found alone. That one question most likely saved me hours of searching and thus allowed my code delivery date to be that very night, instead of a week and a half later, or worse.
I like my time, as I don’t get enough of it nowadays.
So no more of this, “Shoot first, ask questions later” — because that just a waste.