Thursday 26 May 2016

The Good the Bad and the Java

Whew it's been a hard couple of weeks on the training journey.  For me it's very familiar territory and a reminder of what I learned on Java, for most of the class it's been an uphill challenge.  Slowly the confidence in the room is growing, but the general feeling is that this part of the course was way too short for the amount of learning that we needed to cram in.

For me it's involved lots of the stuff I like best, troubleshooting code and figuring out why things aren't working in the way that they should.

(this afternoon was hard even for me though with problems installing software - why do things still have to be installed from 'command lines' in this day and age?  (me, I'm a button-clicky girl, I like buttons that do stuff, not typing in lines of instructions only to realise you got a minus sign in the wrong place or some such...).

Personally I feel like my own confidence is shooting up, both in the fact that I can trust my own knowledge and understanding of the code, but also in that I am competent enough to share that understanding with my peers, in maybe a more understandable way than the trainers at times.

One week and a day to the OU exam, and whilst I am not over-confident, I do feel like my revision is on good track despite the lack of time to devote to it.  Maybe it's being so happy in the day job, that the exam scares me a bit less?  Who knows, but I'll take it anyway!!

Friday 13 May 2016

Shifting my own Goalposts?

Almost ready to sign up for that final course now so of course my brain is doing the 'what next'.  My own chance remark in yesterday's post has planted some (albeit it very small) seeds of a possible desire for postgraduate study.  It appears that student loans may be available for post-graduate study too, and as I don't have a current post-grad qualification then I may be eligible.

Is it for me?  Too early to tell, and too early in the software development journey to make that judgement based on an unknown amount of stuff I would need to take in during the day.  But food for thought at least, not something I thought I'd even be thinking about...

Thursday 12 May 2016

Encouraging Results

TMA results are in for TMA3, 87%!!  Well chuffed with that, considering I had both assignment and project for work happening at the same time.

It gives me a level of hope for the exam, that I have actually retained some information.  I just need 40%, I keep telling myself, but I know that I want more than that, I don't want standards to slip this close to the end goalposts.

Soon I will have to push the button and sign up for my final ever OU module!  How freaky is that man?  (now if I can just get work to sponsor a Masters....definitely IT related job now though...).

Having a brief celebration inside my head before picking up the books again on the commute home.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Eek its almost upon us...

A quick post at lunchtime...the only presentations remaining now are from people on the same team as I went to, so it's going to be interesting to see the variety of different thoughts on the experience.

Am I nervous...erm yeah but not as bad as I expected, I've gone into OU exams with much more terror than this, so I can take that as a positive anyway.

Tomorrow back to some learning, not that we really stopped learning for the time of our placements, but back to the formality of structured days etc.  A few days on UNIX/LINUX this week and then into the main course of Java which actually lasts around 3 weeks, I think.

By the time Java is done with, I will at least have been through the exam and come out the other side, my 'free' time will be my own again to fill up with the delights of what I've learned during the day!

Monday 9 May 2016

Back to the future

Nah, not the 80s movie so much talked about last year.

Back to the revision morning and night, for another few weeks, and back to the training room today, to the remains of our training which will shape so much of the future for all of us.

Today and tomorrow we get to do 'show and tell' presentations about what our experiences were like out in the real world.  I don't think that anyone else's was anything like as involved as ours, and to have come out of it with a product that could add real value to real people is actually quite an amazing feeling.  Typically I have been allocated the final presentation slot tomorrow afternoon.  On the plus side this gives me the chance to listen to everyone else and amend my notes last-minute.  On the minus side it gives me SO much more time to fret about getting it all wrong!!  I don't feel too bad at the moment, this may have been helped by the 2 glasses of wine sitting in the sun at lunchtime though!!  (First day back, who can refuse pizza and vino...?)

I think I am slowly coming to the conclusion though that 'suck it up and get on with it' is the new mantra for stuff in my life, actually - no - that sounds negative -

'Feel the Fear  - and do it anyway'

is much more like it.  I'd once never have been comfortable putting myself so much out there, but by doing just that I have opened doors for myself (and maybe even for others?) and found myself on a journey long dreamed of.  So maybe the presentation will be not so scary after all, and I do look forward to sharing the product we've been working on, I'm very proud of what we achieved in the timescale available.

And a little part of me thinks that graduating last year has been partly the catalyst for that internal change, I've been feeling it coming for a few years, with more 'management thoughts' creeping into my head, but I think it may have been the final proof that it was all real, that I haven't just imagined all this, that there is some knowledge retained in there somewhere (despite my best efforts to push it out with new stuff...) and that finally someone can make use of that knowledge in a constructive way.

(wow I am full of random introspective thoughts lately aren't I?)

Sunday 8 May 2016

When enough isn't enough

Having one of those times at the minute with regards to revision, or the lack of time thereof.   My usual strategies for revising rely on those extra two days at the end of the week to allow a balance where I can walk away for a few hours as part of the schedule.

My last week has involved very long days at the office - loved every minute of the work we've been doing out on project placement, but it doesn't fit one well for turning on the study brain.  I've tried to do as much as possible on the commute, but there have been a couple of days where my body has just entirely objected, with the result that I stare out the window of the metro vacantly.

Having to reassess my revision style this year, therefore, I am now looking immediately through past papers to try and find the common ground, then I can concentrate more on those areas covered on the exam papers rather than try to wade through the entire set of textbooks.

I still need to keep remembering to strive for the 40% and work up to the rest.  I don't feel as though failure would be imminent, I just can't see how I can fit everything in that I need to without making myself ill in the process.  This week is usually still part of my 'oh my word I don't even want to be anywhere near my studies' period following the TMA, add in the extra pressure of the extra time at work and it's not surprising my body objects so strongly!!

OK that was a very rambly post, maybe it gives you some idea of where my head is anyway?  More some other time when I can actually think straight...

Monday 2 May 2016

Procrastination Over...almost...

Well, the bell has almost rung to signal the end of the Bank Holiday weekend, which can only mean one thing as far as the OU journey is concerned - yes tonight is the start of revision planning.  With less time available to be taking notes etc, the commute is going to need to  be utilised to its fullest, taking on as much information as I can manage and then working on notes and examples on the evenings.

I'm as stressed as I ever am about revision time, there's never enough time left to try and cram in everything that I feel I need to know for the exam, but, to be honest, the 'Day Job' is kind of taking over at present, so I'm hoping that extra focus will actually help me to keep my 'study brain' turned on and not make me feel like I've no escape whatsoever from the studies.

It also occurs to me that, as the Database module doesn't have an examination, instead relying on an 'End of Module Assessment', this will be my last OU exam before I graduate fully with honours next summer.

People ask how I'm managing it all, I'm not entirely sure that I ever have 'managed it', just feels like a constant state of 'muddle through' with regards to time available etc.  But I am proud of myself for both my OU journey, and the new Software Development journey that it's given me the opportunity to be part of.

I get the feeling that the Software Developer job will be one which requires an almost life-long commitment to ongoing learning, the technologies change and adapt so often that there's a multitude of things to learn about on a daily basis, not just the software to program in but the other packages and tools that support the process.  So I don't think I'll ever stop learning, not till I'm old(er) and grey(er) anyway, when I might have a couple of days off and learn to hang-glide!!