A lot of interns go unseen, unheard and spend most of their day at work doing coffee rounds. At IMGN we strive to give them the opportunity to not only learn, grow and master the basic coding skills, but we also want to give them the space to express themselves and experiment with different technologies to find their unique identity in the workplace. I spoke to one of our current interns, Terry Ross.
Who is Terry Ross?
I’m just a regular guy, really. As regular as can be in this world full of irregular people, I guess. There is the fact that I’m blind. I’m an intern at IMGN, where they aim to equip me with better programming skills. And, if this internship goes well—which I’m sure it will—this opportunity will be offered to other students next year. Students, like me, who can’t really afford to go to university, or who can’t make it for other reasons.
Why not? Studying to become an architect is out of the question, so I chose to do what I might just become good at. Coding is the future. Everything we do will be computerised (if it isn’t already), and it is necessary, I feel, to not only jump on the bandwagon, but to also figure out how the bandwagon is steered. Coding is a behind-the-scenes thing, and the average person doesn’t spare a second thought to how their apps work. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. I tell myself that, every day when I start the morning, with a hundred ideas of ways I can manipulate code, and when none of them actually run.
What tools are you using?
Primarily I use the screenreader (JAWS), which pretty much does what it says. It reads the screen, and it allows you to interact with your computer. Without this one, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
The IDE I use is eclipse, probably because, I find, it is the most accessible, and my colleagues can make use of saros to tutor me. I’d love to use IntelliJ, but as far as I can see, it’s not accessible.
Biggest challenge you face?
Honestly? The fact that I’m human, and I’m only able to learn and process so much at once. My mind runs away with me, and I get so many ideas—hey, look, let’s try this and see what happens—but I don’t yet have the experience to carry out those ideas which, I know, comes with time and practice. And, of course, when apps don’t work. Inaccessibility is a big obstacle. We as blind people have to find our own way of doing things, and it can become time-consuming to try and figure our way around stuff.
Your favourite app?
Aside from my screenreader? Probably iTunes, mostly because I’m OCD about my music. I need my files to be structured correctly. Plus, there’s this added feature called Apple Music, which is pretty cool, too.
Any advice or tips for other beginners?
Yes. Don’t get discouraged. Keep at it. Pretend like this coding thing is the last straw. Pretend like it’s your lifeline, because it probably will be one day. If you find yourself in the starter’s position of being a codemonkey, there’s probably a very good reason you’re there. So work hard, keep believing in yourself, and enjoy what you do. Keep that passion ignited. Loving what you do goes a long way to ensure that you stay good at it.