A Day in the Life at Adjacent Online

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Hi! I’m Keith Ng, California born and raised. 

I go to Davidson College, class of 2023, and I’m planning to major in Mathematics.

I’m really interested in sustainable living, entomophagy, strategy board games and logic puzzles. I enjoy the collaborative reasoning and painful mind-bending presented in tough problems. Hopefully, I can combine my desire for the environment with my passion for solving difficult problems and help tackle climate change. 

I did the semester program with Adjacent in Spring 2020. You can see more on my blog: https://keithjkng.com/.

Read about Keith's typical day...

April 24, 2020

How is a week and a day at Adjacent online typically structured?

Each week is structured like a regular workweek, Monday through Friday with Saturday and Sunday open for relaxation and social times (strictly at home of course!). Each day, we’re expected to be accessible (online and reachable) 8 hours a day but don’t worry, it’s not continuous grinding! There is plenty to do each day, and while the main entree is working on solo or group projects, the sides consist of meals, live coding sessions, trivia, and really anything.

I’ll take you through what happens with me. 

So how does your day typically start?

Every morning, I wake up at 7 AM and get ready for class. I eat some bread or a bagel for breakfast (my mom’s really big on baking, especially with not much else to do at the moment) and make sure I’m ready for class at 8. I guess it’s unfortunate for me to have to wake up an hour earlier than the rest of my classmates (darn timezones), but at least I sign off an hour earlier too! At 8 AM, I sign-on through Discord, sending an emoji of whatever I’d eaten that morning. 

If you don’t know what Discord is, it’s basically a messaging, calling, streaming platform initially intended for gamers but now used for general communication. The convenience of the service is that users can create their own servers, invite moderator bots (my favorite bot, Pancake, plays music in calls for you), stream their screens in really good quality, and is entirely free. I’ve been using Discord since 2016 and was thrilled when I learned we’d be using it. But anyway enough about Discord. 

Immediately after signing on, I join a Zoom call with the rest of my cohort. We call this the “Stand Up” and it’s supposedly a really common practice in companies. We use this time to talk about our progress from the day before, our goals for the day, and what blockers we may have. After Stand Up, various events happen depending on the day. Some days, a fellow cohort member (cohortee?) will present an idea to the rest of the class. Usually, we show off something we’re passionate about, so topics vary greatly. I offered a lesson on photo editing with Pixlr while my roommate pitched his own start-up idea. On other days, we will have guests come in and speak to us about various aspects within the tech industry. We had a panel from LinkedIn answer questions about their company and UX, or a Davidson alum called in and spoke to us about business communication and making our own introductions and closing statements when meeting new people. 

What happens in the mid-morning?

At 10 AM, I either join my English class or I watch Jesse (the lead instructor) live code. Our English class (held on Mondays and Wednesdays) has an important emphasis on ethical dilemmas within the technology industry presented in scholarly articles or fiction literature.

Live Coding usually has us bombard Jesse with various questions within code. In some sessions, Jesse has coded up a mobile app (within 40 minutes!) all while narrating his actions. It feels a lot like watching a YouTube tutorial except interactive and dynamic. This is the closest classes ever get to “lecture-y” and even then, it never feels like a professor droning. Furthermore, participation in Live Coding is technically optional, so if you feel your project is more pressing at the moment, you are free to work on that instead! Jesse usually posts his Live Coding sessions on YouTube so we’re able to rewatch the things he made later! 

What do you do right after lunchtime?

After Live Coding, I eat lunch and let my brain recharge for an hour. At noon, I’m back on Zoom participating in “Help X Build”. Help X is similar to Live Coding except that Jesse usually answers questions more pertinent to our own projects. It’s like a group office hours session. 

On Fridays, instead of Help X, we play trivia as a class. Trivia allows us to build bonds with team members while competitively showing off our knowledge of obscure facts (or our ability to guess really well) to the other team. 

After that hour, I usually reserve the rest of my day for solo or group projects. During this time, I talk with my group and we divide our work evenly among members. We also use this time to attend Jesse’s office hours; every time we have a question, we connect to Jesse’s “desk” in Discord. This is also our way to get 1-on-1’s with the instructors of the program. Gordon and Malena also have desks within the same Discord server and any questions about brainstorming, careers, and networking can be answered really easily with their presence at their desks! 

When I’m working in a group, I call my group mates on Discord while one of us starts a Visual Studio Code Live Share session. VS Code Live Share allows participants to edit a directory together similar to how Google Docs allows multiple people to edit a shared document at once. 

How does your day typically end?

At the end of the day, I make sure that all my group members and I are on the same page and on track to finish the project. My most recent group project was a Book Finder web app. I made the app with two other students, both of which who were on East Coast time. Being 3 hours ahead meant they were ready to leave “the office” earlier than I was, so even after they logged off, I would continue making small changes or testing out my own variations to the code. Timezones are an interesting obstacle but with a little communication, they don’t affect development too much. 

Our projects are usually finished by Thursday night and the presentations are held on Friday. We then have a short Q&A session with the developers in which they offer insight into the creation of their project. Our final products are then deployed to Heroku and our code is stored on Github, allowing anyone to access our code and product at any time! 

Sounds like a full day! What do you do in the evening?

The days end with dinner and board games with my family. Sheltering in place has allowed us to run through a lot of our games; some favorites we have are the train building race of Ticket to Ride and the (relevant) virus prevention game Pandemic. Some evenings, I’ll hang out with some members of my cohort. We’ll watch something together with Netflix Party, which allows Netflix users to sync up and watch together. It doesn’t have quite the same feeling as hanging out with them in real life as we did in the first few weeks of the program, but it’s still a really fun way to bond with the other students. 

What do you like about learning remotely at Adjacent? What’s challenging about it?

Learning remotely with Adjacent is a lot of fun. Our instructors do an excellent job at making sure we’re always informed and up to date with the various Discord text channels and having the option to join Jesse or do your own work makes the days very flexible and work easy to manage. The projects are still difficult though and being away from group members means an extra layer of communication and cooperation between everyone. 

What advice would you give to future Adjacent students?

The most useful thing for me this semester was reaching out! Code feels overwhelming and difficult when it’s just one person looking at it, but a second pair of eyes changes everything. It doesn’t have to be a classmate either, it could be anyone, even if they don’t necessarily have technical knowledge. A lot of things that break code are visible to anyone, a missing semicolon or an extra parenthesis. Another really important thing to do, especially if things are remote, is to participate in fun stuff! It’s a lot more fun working with people you know well and enjoy being with; hanging out after hours makes work feel less like work and more like a hobby project with friends. 

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Hey, I’m Kendahl Ross, class of 2022 at Davidson College majoring in communications.

Through attaining my license to sell insurance in the great state of Texas at 19, I’ve been seeking ways to connect my passion for business with different majors. So far, I’ve explored communications, economics, and now computer science. I’ve always been fascinated by technology and enjoy learning how it works, however, I’ve been uncertain about taking a typical computer science course. Davidson in Silicon Valley gave me a chance to learn the ins and outs of tech as well as how it’s used in many different career paths.

Read about Kendahl's typical day...

April 26, 2020

How is a week and a day at the online program typically structured?

You meet in the mornings, discuss what you’ve been working on previously and what you plan to get done…. and then you get after it! Instructors are available in chat rooms if you need them most of the day. At the end of the week you present whatever you’d been working on that week. Sometimes these projects are solo, partner, or group projects. 

So how does your day typically start?

I set an alarm for 9am and 9:30am. If I’m not up by then my mom calls me and tells me to come downstairs and eat breakfast. I also sign onto Discord, our class messaging system. At 10a (since I’m on Central time), I drink a cup of coffee and hop on Zoom for our daily Stand-up, where we lay out the blueprint of our day and hear any important updates or announcements. After that I brush my teeth and shamelessly take a little nap. 

What do you do during the afternoon and how do you wrap up your day?

Around 1p I either go workout or I go work on whatever weekly project I have at hand. Usually, I base this decision on if it’s a group or solo project. If it’s a group project I go straight to work during this time so I can work at the same time as my teammates. If it’s a solo project I workout during this time since I know I can pick up later.  Then around 5 or 6p sign off on Discord and proceed to shower and have dinner with the fam! After that, I usually hop on Xbox with my boys since we can’t all hangout right now (due to quarantine). The amount of work I have the next day decides how late I stay up playing the game.

What do you like about learning remotely at Adjacent? What’s challenging about it?

The thing I like most is how doable it is. Yes, we’re still challenged but it’s well within reason. The most challenging part is getting entirely on the same page with group members for group projects. It’s just not the same as person to person contact and the same goes for interactions with the instructors. I will say it has provided some cool opportunities to just chat with instructors through Zoom or Discord though. 

What advice would you give to future Adjacent students?

Come with an open mind and embrace the challenge! A lot of challenges will be thrown at you (some planned by the instructors and some out of nowhere as life goes) and you have to be ready to learn and grow as you wrestle with those challenges as opposed to having a fixed mindset (getting angry, being ready to give up, slacking with your work, these are not how you want to respond to these challenges)! Be ready to grow both academically and intellectually, and gain a great amount of workplace experience during this program.