There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
This is it. The “official” start of the Piscine. At 9:42 we had a Kick-off meeting, and after that we gained access to the very first challenge.
For the challenges, you have to go to your intra profile, find the list of projects and subscribe to it. Then they will generate a link for you to clone a repository, and the submission of that project will be made via git.
The very first challenge is more of a “tutorial”, where you have to complete simple tasks in order to learn how the process works. After you complete this first one, you will have access to Shell00. Projects get progressively harder, and you should submit one to see the next open. So for example, you can only start C00 after you successfully pass Shell00. Each project has several exercises inside — it can be 6, it can be 12… — and in order for you to “pass”, you must be evaluated by 2 peers and by their “robot”, Moulinette.
So this is how it goes: First you subscribe to the project and clone the repository. Then, you work on the exercises and push your solutions. You can look for help everywhere: google, youtube, stack overflow, peers, tribe, study room channel… You just can’t ask code-related questions to the wolf p.a.c.k. (they won’t answer anyway…) and you must be able to write your own code, understand it and explain it. There are no deadlines for each project, you can take as long as you need.
After you are done, you must mark the project as finished and schedule your 2 evaluations. Each evaluation costs a point. You start with 5 points, and the only way to get points back is by evaluating other people. So let’s say you finished Shell00. You will then spend 2 points and schedule 2 evaluations. Their system will then randomly match you with a peer for each evaluation. You will only know who is going to evaluate you 15 minutes before the appointment.
During an evaluation, you should be able to defend your code, answer questions, and your solution should be able to pass tests. Your peer will then mark each exercise with a “yes” or “no”. Even if you fail an exercise, you should keep checking the other ones. Even if you “fail” your first evaluation, you should do the second, as you may learn from your peer. Or you could cancel and “lose” a point, but I really recommend taking the second one anyway. You can always learn something.
Evaluations are paired randomly, so you may have to evaluate someone on a project that you haven’t reached yet or vice versa, and that is why it is so important for the person being evaluated to be able to explain their code and thought process. So not only you can learn, but also you can be sure that the person really wrote that code, instead of the fearsome “cheating” flag that gets you -42 points.
After you finish both evaluations by peers, your code will be checked by Moulinette, and you will receive your final score. It is possible to pass with a little over 50%, you don’t need to get everything right all the time. But there is one catch: Moulinette will fail you when you get your first exercise wrong. If, for example, the project has 10 exercises but Moulinette failed you on the 2nd one, you won’t be checked for the next ones. In this case, you should re-do the exercises and submit again for a new set of evaluations.
The first impression I had about the Piscine, by reading about it or watching videos before my own started, was that I would sit down in front of the computer and code 12h straight. But after my second day, I realized that there is much more to that.
You have to find time to code, but also to participate in the community, ask for help from your peers, help them with what you know, watch videos, read endless links to find a solution to your problem, and on top of that, juggle evaluation slots, both for you to be evaluated and for you to evaluate others. It’s unpredictable to know how long each evaluation will take, so it might take longer than you were counting on, so be mindful of the interval between the slots you open for evaluations.
I finished the Shel00 exercise by Tuesday and got my evaluations on the same day. You have only 24h to be evaluated on a project once you submit it, so be also mindful of that as well.
After Shell00 there is the Shell01 project, which I started on the same day, but then decided to leave it for later, so on Wednesday, I started C00. The reason behind it is that on Friday we would have our very first Exam, and the exam is all about C. No Shell. So I wanted to get familiar with some C before the exam.
On Thursday I decided to submit Shell01 anyway, but I was failed by Moulinette. My first failure, but that is ok. I understood why there was a mistake and was able to correct it. I spent the rest of the day on C00, preparing for the next day.
Finally, on Friday we had our first Exam. The exam is made in an online platform that detects if you leave the browser tab, so they can consider this as “cheating”. I normally get REALLY nervous with exams, so I put to myself the “goal” of passing just 1 question. In the end, I passed 4 questions and I definitely wasn’t expecting that. So moving on earlier to C00 really paid off.
After the exam was over, there was a call for everyone to “vent” a little, share thoughts and make questions, which was nice. After the exam I rested for a few hours, until the start of the first “Rush”.
“Rush” is how they call the group projects done on the weekends. There are 2 Rushes in the remote Piscine, one on week 2 and the other on week 3. They randomly put you in a group of 3 people on Friday at 19:42 and the deadline is Sunday at 23:42. My group was very nice and hardworking, and I was the “leader”. We were able to finish our challenge and all the other bonus challenges. It was really great working together and I learned a lot. We finished much earlier than the deadline, so I had some free time on Sunday.
There are no Tribe check-ins on the weekend, and the Rush is optional. So you have more time to focus on exercises or evaluations. I submitted my C00 project on Saturday and passed, and re-submitted Shell01 on Sunday, which I also passed (yay!). Because of that, I evaluated 4 people on the free time I had on Sunday, to gain back my points.
The first week flew by, and my tribe’s support was crucial for my sanity. We ended up bonding very well and morning check-ins are always fun. I always ask questions on my tribe before asking in other channels, and they also support me when I feel frustrated or pessimistic. Thank you, tribe 7! You are the best. 💕
If you want to continue reading about my experience at the 42 Wolfsburg please come back later this week!