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Second Income Coding

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Why Malcolm, one of our amazing review team, started earning a second income coding on Geektastic and what it’s like.

 

  • What was your motivation to join?

I’m a mostly-retired software developer with many years of experience in many languages. I was attracted to joining the Ubergeek team to keep my skills fresh, to share my knowledge, and of course to make a little money in my spare time.

  • What was the process like joining?

Python is my most familiar language, so I started out with the Python Express Challenges. There was an interesting mix of questions. Some were straightforward and fairly easy, some were tricky and some required quite esoteric knowledge. Once I reached a top 5% score on these challenges, I was invited to take one of the longer Python programming challenges on the site, a two hour task. The task was quite interesting, not hugely complex but not trivial. I didn’t produce a perfect solution, but I did pretty well - well enough to be invited to try my hand at reviewing one myself. After a couple of suggested changes, my review was judged to be good, and I was on the team!

  • What can you expect a week to look like being a reviewer?

Now my life continues much as it was, except that from time to time a notification pops up for a review that needs doing. If I’m free and I feel like it, I can pick it up and get reviewing. I love to be able to work optionally and with no pressure, so this suits me very well.

  • What do you think the benefits for candidates are of taking a geektastic challenge (express and peer review)?

Same for hiring teams I admit, at first I wasn’t entirely sold on the value added by Geektastic. When I’ve hired developers in the past, I’ve used some of the services that just run automated tests over the submitted code, and I’ve found them to be ok. Over time, I’ve come to see how much extra value is provided by Geektastic’s approach and the Ubergeek reviewers. These days, developers have to take a lot of tests. A developer returning to the market with in-demand skills might be asked to take a multitude of programming tests for different potential jobs. Each test takes up time and energy, and usually all the candidate gets back is a yes or no answer on moving to the next stage of the hiring process.

With Geektastic, the candidate receives valuable feedback on which parts of the code did or didn’t work, and which aspects of the code and design were seen as good or bad, making the task a useful training exercise as well as a hoop to jump through.

The ability of candidates to reply to the reviewer’s comments is also very valuable. The replies help to understand what the candidate was trying to do and where it all went wrong, providing useful extra information on their level of skill. Also, from time to time, candidates use their right of reply to show that they react very poorly when criticized, something the potential employer would be interested to know. Having your program get the right answers is only a small part of any programming task. It also has to be simple, readable and easy to modify and maintain.

  • What do you enjoy about doing reviews?

When I’m reviewing, I enjoy providing feedback aimed at teaching, to help the candidate to improve as a developer. My favourite part of the process is when the candidate’s replies show that I’ve succeeded in helping them.

  • What would be your advice to anyone thing of joining our review team?

I’m definitely glad I went ahead and joined the team, and now I always look forward to some more reviews coming through. For anybody thinking about giving it a try, I would definitely say, go ahead.

 

Date: 15th December 2020