How can I practice pair programming?

Pair programming is part of the day-to-day software development process for many companies, and it can also be used as part of the technical interview process. When interviewing job candidates, it’s a helpful way to see how you might perform on a team.

But if you’re new to programming and haven’t had a ton of pair programming opportunities, it can be hard to practice this part of the interview process. So we asked an experienced coder to help us out.

Avielle Wolfe is a developer at thoughtbot, a software design and development agency. Their team creates custom-built web and mobile products for their clients.

“We don’t have a hiring team or recruiters,” Avielle says. “We all take part in hiring. I’ve conducted several pair programming interviews.”

She also passed a pair programming interview to land her current job. “A full day of pair programming is [the] last stage at thoughtbot.”

In her experience, practicing this skill set is “tricky, especially when you’re learning at home,” she says.

Revealing our work takes courage. One way to ease into it is by pairing with fellow beginners. There is value in meeting people who are on our level, Avielle tells us.

So how do you find awesome programmers who are also looking to pair? Check out the CodeNewbie Twitter chats! During the Shoutouts section (the last 10-15 mins of our Wed chats), tweet that you’re looking for someone to pair with and what you might want to work on.

“Any opportunity you have to pair with someone, I definitely recommend taking it,” Avielle says. She recommends looking for communities where you can join in.

BEGINNER-FRIENDLY ONLINE COMMUNITIES

If you want to get to know people in a beginner-friendly chat room environment, try joining Slack groups for people learning to code. We have one! You can join here.

You can post questions on Slack any time. You can also see what other coders are working on. Reaching out to help fellow learners will reinforce your own learning. When you want to share screens and code together, try Google Hangouts or join.me.

Another online community that’s welcoming to beginners is Code Buddies. They have public Slack channels as well as scheduled study groups and hangouts. Each scheduled online hangout is dedicated to one language, problem, or skill. You can add your own hangouts to attract people to a topic or debugging challenge that you’d like to hash out, live, online.

FIND A MORE SENIOR PAIRING PARTNER

We investigated 20 meetups, lists, and matching services for pair programming. These are the most active. CoderMatch.me is especially handy because it filters results by programming language and skill level.

– CoderMatch.me is a web app that matches you based on your skill level, your preferred partner’s skill level, coding language, location, and whether or not you can remote pair.

– Meetup.com – Pair Programming – This event category lists over 140 pair programming meetups (look for remote if there are none near you).

– “Kent Beck” Scrum and Pair Meetup is a daily online (remote) pairing event open to all levels.

Not sure how to present your skills and talk about your projects in your job interview? Check out Season 2, Episode 3 of the CodeNewbie podcast.

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