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October 29, 2018

Learning to Code in the Real World. The iXperience Difference

Written by

Chris Painter

UPenn 19'

Before iXperience, I had only encountered code in the context of generalized data science, and theory-based coursework at UPenn. However, with iXperience, I gained a whole host of applicable technical skills that I know will make me more marketable moving forward.

iXperience Full Stack Coding class, Cape Town 2018

iXperience Full Stack Coding, Cape Town 2018

After a bit of deliberation, I decided on the Full-Stack Coding course taught in Cape Town, which provided a thorough introduction on how to create mobile applications. The course taught me how to make applications by using a software development platform called Ionic, which streamlines JavaScript, HTML, and CSS into one framework. Being introduced to Ionic was extremely useful as it made the application coding process exponentially easier. Through Ionic, we specifically learned how to collect and store user information (logins, passwords, and records of past user experiences across multiple logins) into databases. Learning about this type of application data collection, and how to implement it in working form, really paralleled the real-world execution that would follow.

The Project

iXperience students working together

iXperience students working collaboratively 

During the second half of the course, our class was assigned a group project that required us to create a charity donating application that provided the user with a list of charity options, and a payment method for donation. To carry out our group work tasks, I learned how to use Github to do collaborative coding. I found it slightly more difficult to code in a group than coding by myself. However, I came to appreciate that the way worked resembles the real world, and it is more fulfilling to be challenged instead of becoming stagnant in a strictly individualistic learning environment.

The Internship

After completing the Full-Stack Coding course, I felt solidly prepared to take on the internship that was before me at Vibes: a Cape Town-based mobile food-ordering and self pick-up application that eliminates wait time by notifying the user when their order will be ready (similar to Starbucks’ drink-ordering app). I transitioned into the internship from the course with no trouble, as Vibes’ app-building process involved the same framework as Ionic, so it was not a mystery as to what I was getting myself into. It was a professional version and direct expansion of the work we had done in class, with the added benefits and challenges of working with seasoned software developers.

Although I have worked in technology internships before, this was the first internship I've ever had where I productively used my technical knowledge on an everyday basis. My previous internships were more in the realm of product management, but they did not allow me to specifically apply my technical skills to their full potential. Vibes, however, gave me the opportunity to write code that will actually go into real-world production, and it is fulfilling to know that, down the line, I can say that I have made an impactful contribution to the company's final product.

Prior to this course and internship, I had no experience with web development; but iXperience equipped me with the tools that were necessary to fully immerse myself into a field I have never encountered before. This was my first time coding for an actual business; and though I might work exclusively in development, my experiences coding in groups will no doubt be applicable to my future endeavours, in business and beyond.

Future Clarity

With my programming knowledge widely expanded, especially in the context of practicality; I now feel confident in my understanding of how and what businesses code. I want to do machine learning research after college, and this has definitely helped me move towards that goal, since understanding how software is developed is a key component to succeeding in the machine learning field.

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