2019 was a year of growth for Kooba. We added seven employees to the Kooba team and one of those new team members was Ross.
Ross came into Kooba as a paid intern in July 2019 and after 12 weeks we’d seen enough: we hired him on as a full time Junior Frontend Developer. Six months since he first walked in the door, we sat down with Ross to find out more about his experience with Kooba and the shift from intern to permanent Kooba team member.
A big thanks to Ross for taking the time to sit down with us to chat about his time at Kooba.
1. What attracted you to Kooba initially?
Answer: I definitely wanted to get into developing for a design agency. I didn’t really want to go into software development with a company that didn’t involve a lot of creativity, so that informed my decision to look at design agencies. I also wanted to gain experience working on websites rather than focusing on how an app might look or something along those lines.
When I started researching the top design agencies in Dublin Kooba was the first one that came up! I had a look through their projects, saw that they had done some interesting work and ultimately just thought that they looked like a pretty cool agency to work for. Simple as that.
2. Coming from university, how has your time in Kooba, differed from what you learned in college?
Answer: When I finished college in February 2019 I actually did a bit of freelance work but quickly realised it was hard to make money doing that, so then I went for the internship. It’s been a very different experience working in industry. What I really wanted to get from the internship was an introduction to commercial development and when I mentioned that in my interview with Ronan he said that Kooba would show me exactly how it was done. During the internship I was able to sit in on project meetings and learn precisely how things worked - which was a real education.
3. Beyond that educational aspect, how was your experience being an intern at Kooba?
Answer: It was great, really cool. My main goal when beginning at Kooba was to be introduced to the commercial development of website design & development. Over my 12 week internship through tasks set, colleague guidance & exposure to modern development techniques, I felt that this goal was met.
I also really liked being able to see my progress throughout my time as an intern. When I started Ronan had the idea to measure my 12 weeks so he sent me a task in the first week and then in the last week he sent me the same task to see if I’d be able to finish it. It was really cool because it gave you kind of a measurement tool to see how far you’ve progressed. It also really did kind of show you that ‘wow I’ve come on a lot more from when I first started.’
There was also a definite learning curve when starting at Kooba in terms of the pace of everything. It was a different experience having to keep on top of and meet deadlines, that’s just something I’m not used to at all. Or at least I wasn’t then.
4. And do you feel your role changed after being hired on as a permanent employee?
Answer: There's definitely more responsibility, bigger expectations and I suppose more autonomy. I don’t have a senior frontend developer sitting with me while I’m coding, and I am contributing to ‘real world’ projects which makes a big difference. The support is still there, but it’s good to be able to really get stuck in.
5. What does a typical day look like?
Answer: Recently we’ve begun a mentorship type of programme, and as a result my days have changed a bit. The idea is to pair a junior frontender with a senior to work on projects and to help guide and teach the mentee along the way. Now that this programme has kicked off my workday has shifted a bit as now I’m working with my mentor Brendan on different projects.
My day involves checking off tasks. Brendan sends me a component to do on a site, like maybe an orientation strip or a ticket strip, and I would work on it until it was complete. Then I’d send the completed component onto him for review and sign off. If everything is good, I move onto the next task.
Right now I’m working on the menu overlay for the new Kooba site. I’d run through a sketch file of the designs and then I’d set about developing it through whatever text editor I’m using, usually either Webstorm or PHPstorm. The site is going to be amazing by the way!
6. What are your areas of strength? What have you excelled in?
Answer: A willingness to learn new techniques and apply them going forward. For example I have recently been Implementing Flexbox (a type of layout method for displaying items in rows and columns on a site) throughout projects I've worked on.
Being exposed to modern CSS techniques and practices, has allowed me to improve in this area of skill too. Working within the Sass 7-1 pattern (a way to structure multi-part SASS projects using compartmentalization to allow for better maintainability) has given me an insight into how a project can be broken down into smaller parts, allowing for better maintainability.
Overall, my approach in how I tackle a component or project has changed and improved. From planning the layout, by studying the Sketch files, to understanding which components can be incorporated and then re-used throughout, hopefully I am getting more effective and experienced across the board.
7. What are the major skills you have improved in your time at Kooba?
Answer: My approach to web development, from planning to implementation, has greatly improved. Consideration to layout, accessibility & design has evolved and has resulted in an overall improvement in my web development skills. To be specific, before I joined Kooba my knowledge of Flexbox was limited. I am now quite confident in its utilisation & how it can vastly aid in the layout of a site.
BEM (the convention we use for our approach to class naming and SASS file naming that allows us to write CSS styles in a more comprehensive way) was a technique I had some familiarity with before I began my internship, but I did not fully understand the impact it can have on efficiency to production. My version control skills have improved considerably. Past experience to Git or SVN consisted of 1 member teams, pushing and pulling from 1 branch. During the internship and beyond, exposure to multiple branches & projects, in which team members are contributing, has resulted in a more comprehensive understanding of an effective Version Control workflow.
8. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Answer: The most challenging part is probably keeping on top of time. You’re given something and in your head you’re thinking ‘yeah I can do that in 4 hours’ - but then it turns into 7 or 8 hours. A lot of these delays are just part of the process, little things come up that you might not have planned for and then you have to add on time to make those certain elements work. And then you’ll breeze through other parts but then you’ll come to another blocker. It takes time to understand how these things tend to work.
9. Do you have a favourite part of your job/favourite type of project to work on?
Answer: I suppose I like sites that are really interactive, so like working on Bloom has been great because there’s loads of cool little SVG animations. I am doing an advanced front end course so I do that 3 hours a week. The course is through Udemy and funded by Kooba. I set aside 3 hours on a Wednesday to do work on that and at the end of it I will have received a Udemy Certification for advancement on coding methods, techniques and practices.
If we’re talking about individual projects, my favourite project I’ve worked on so far has been GIVE (the new website is going live at the end of this month!). I was given GIVE to collaborate on with Angeliki and Martynas and it was really cool for me to see how a project begins and to work on it right from the start all the way through to completion.
10. Did the internship make an impact on your future plans? Did it change your plans or expectations for your future career?
Answer: The internship provided the necessary skills, guidance and workload to allow me to build upon for my future. More than anything, it gave me an assuredness in myself as a web developer. Tasks and projects I have worked on, I can look back to and be pleased with my contribution. Some of these tasks, before I began my internship, I would've doubted my ability to complete them. More recently being given the responsibility to submit code to live projects, has been instrumental in my own development. Overall, I am delighted with the opportunity and results of my internship with Kooba and to work and learn alongside everyone involved.