On the path to PHP with Youwe University

Introducing Selina Blijleven, Youwe University PHP Trainer
A lot has happened since our last Youwe University blog post, when we introduced the program, explored its aims, and spoke to some of the executives who are making it happen.
Now, as the first intake of students nears the halfway point of the seven-month bootcamp, we take a closer look at their journey into PHP development. With 40 hours of sessions every week, industry onboarding days and masterclasses, the training is in full swing.

A secret sauce for developer success

“Becoming a successful developer isn’t just about learning and writing line upon line of code,” says PHP trainer, Selina Blijleven. “Sure, that’s a fundamental part of it, and it forms the foundations of what we teach at Youwe University. But there’s so much more. It’s a secret sauce that combines knowledge, confidence and creativity with a strategic mindset. To be effective, you need to have an eye on the bigger coding picture without being overwhelmed, while navigating the tiny nuances of each individual code block.”

There are even big differences between working individually and being part of a coding team. Developers have their own different methods of reaching the same end goal. In many cases, there isn’t one definitive correct way to achieve an outcome, particularly when working with complex subroutines. That’s why writing code documentation is also an essential part of working with any codebase.

Preparing for a future at an international digital agency

“A big slice of my role is to teach the lessons that you can’t learn from a YouTube video or an article,” says Selina. “The teamwork that takes place in an international digital agency means all my students will be working with other people’s code once they leave here. And that requires a lot of practice to get it right. To help them cultivate a collaborative mindset, sometimes I’ll give them pieces of my own code to work with. Other times I’ll build code alongside them, and we’ll all pitch in.

“Also, when I originally started my coding career, I didn't really use code libraries, and that is such a waste. Code libraries save a lot of time. There’s so much tangential knowledge that I should have learned, which would have made my whole journey a lot smoother. And that’s my goal at Youwe University. It’s about making programming accessible and instinctive, as well as having every single piece of the puzzle that helps you become a better developer.”

Practical, educational fun is an important component of the lessons. The students have been working together to create a playable character generator. They’ve learned how to build classes - program code templates for creating objects - and they’ve explored code commonalities and implementations. Selina has also used a hangman game to show how random elements can be introduced into code.

Feel the fear, and do it anyway

Selina studied at the University of Amsterdam, achieving a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. She’s worked as a software engineer, written technical documentation and dabbled in organizational management and economics. However, Selina didn’t always have faith in her technical prowess. She thought she couldn't succeed, believing her talents were best used elsewhere. But she quickly became comfortable when she gave AI a chance. And that’s part of the reason why Selina became a teacher, to instil confidence and show others what they can achieve.

“I think that learning opens up a person’s vulnerabilities. To learn something, you first have to admit that you don't know it yet. And that can make you feel uncomfortable. Learning can be difficult as well as fun, and it requires a fresh, open way of thinking. But the best way to learn is to let yourself get swept away. Let yourself be vulnerable and I promise you that you’ll become capable of much more than you ever expected.”

As the course continues, our students will gather all the skills they need to become successful junior developers, including Magento training. So, make sure you come back soon to this space, as we’ll be checking in with them regularly and sharing their progress.


For more information about Youwe University, you can keep an eye on Youwe’s Careers Site and LinkedIn feeds. We’ll be sure to introduce the participants to you, as well as announce the upcoming bootcamps and how you can register your interest in attending.