So if you are here, you are probably looking for some Ruby/Rails engineers. Many companies (and therefore recruiters) are but they are hard to find. Luckily we have programs in place to get more people, especially woman, into coding, such as Rails Girls (and our local Berlin group) and Open Tech School. With the current shortage of programmers I want to urge you to give alumni of these programs a chance. The programs go far in their support, it ranges from workshops, to weekly meetups and even a full 3 month hands on learning program with good coaching/mentoring like Rails Girls Summer of Code (I wrote about ways to continue to learn here). But the last step of success is mostly out of the hands of those programs. It’s in the hands of companies to give the alumni a chance and hire them as an intern, trainee or junior developer (yes I believe some are ready to be a junior developer).
Why should I hire alumni?
I believe there is one thing you need to especially consider when thinking about alumni from such a program: those people made a deliberate choice to quit whatever their former career was and get into programming. You know it can be hard and rough – especially when you are starting and you are mostly on your own. It takes a lot of determination to go through with it. Determination to sit at home and figure out that one bug in your sample application instead of watching TV or whatever. And a lot of passion.
Also they bring in all their rich experiences from their former careers which can help in a number of ways that none of us can predict. They’ve got ideas that I couldn’t even dream off.
These are not your common graduate students
When you assess these programmers for a position please keep in mind that they haven’t undergone any formal education. They know about Ruby and Rails but they might not know about Java or the lambda calculus or the inner architecture of a CPU or whatever they teach you at a university… (note: I’m studying and am at the end of my Master studies).
The question is: is all that knowledge really important? In my opinion: No it mostly is not! I believe that a lot of this knowledge is not necessary for a specific job and that you can pick up what you need when you face a problem. Example: UTF-8. It’s really great to know how UTF-8, Unicode etc. work but what are the practical implications? For me it mostly boils down to: “Oh look some character is not displaying correctly. Okay let’s change the encoding to UTF-8. Works.”
There also are a lot of things that you rarely ever touch again like Turing machine, formal grammar, details of how the Windows Kernel works, higher math, TCP/IP stack… I could go on. Of course this all depends on your field of work: If you do 3D computation you probably need higher math. If you do network security or some optimizations you need good TCP knowledge (which is totally interesting by the way). But most of the time you don’t and then when you get to it you will have to refresh your knowledge again either way.
Also alumni sometimes might not know what a specific term means (e.g. polymorphism) but chances are they already use the concept – they just don’t know the name.
Meet some Rails Girls Summer of Code alumni
As you might know I’m from Berlin and so I know some of the local teams. A lot of them are looking for jobs right now and I asked them if I could include them in this blog post and here are the people that I know, asked and said yes. I want to highlight that I know all of them as extremely motivated and capable learners and programmers. All of them were coached during the summer by coaches I know and highly respect :-)
I might not be up to date with their current job status, so some of them might already have a position. In that case, keep them in mind for the future ;-)
So without further ado, let me introduce:
Susanne and Tam from Team Highway to Rails
I’ve known Susanne and Tam for some time – they are among the founding members of the rubycorns, a weekly study group that Til and I coach. The two of them have always shown a great interest, motivation and effort (especially when working on homework) in the study group. So it was no surprise to me when they applied for Rails Girls Summer of Code. Unfortunately they were rejected. But here comes the real surprise and what really impressed me: they didn’t even think of giving up. Nor for a second. They buckled up, put in the extra effort and looked for an opportunity how they could make it happen for them either way. That’s some real motivation right there. And they found Absolventa where they did their voluntary Summer of Code as Team Highway to Rails. They worked on event_girl an “open event-logging system with triggers/hooks to run arbitrary tasks when an event is matched or not matched.”.
Want to get in touch with them? Great!
Carla Drago from Team Inchworms
Carla has been one the first students we ever had at Rails Girls Berlin and went on to be one of the founding members our famous first study group the Ruby Monsters. After finishing their initial project the group went on to their next project: the speakerinnen liste. The “monsters”, as we call them, now help on multiple workshops as coaches teaching new attendees Ruby on Rails, which is awesome. As a little fun memory from myself: I once went to their project group meetup several months ago eager to help them with problems. Many didn’t need any help at all and when they did it was a hard problem, that took me quite some time to figure out. During this summer of code Carla worked as a member of team inchworms on sinatra and farmsubsidy. Here is Carla’s LinkedIn.
Laura Wadden from Team Railsgrrls
I met Laura for the first time when she was in my group at our Rails Girls Berlin anniversary workshop. Right from the start I noticed that she had an extraordinary fascination for programming. Laura has a strong background in working with nonprofit organizations, fundraising and event organization as this is what she mainly did before her journey into coding. During this summer she worked on the learners directory and a new programming language on top of Rubinius called lani. I’ve been the mentor for the learners directory, but her deep interest into how programming languages work really impresses me. During the summer of code this team had their own table at the Soundcloud offices – giving them one of the best learning environments one can think of with lots of awesome people around to help. Oh and here is her LinkedIn profile.
Nina Breznik of Team Spree Girls
Nina also had the luck of being able to work from the SoundCloud offices, that’s where I met her. Her team is working on the spree commerce project an online web shop written in Rails. It’s quite the challenge to understand a system as complex as spree, even more so as a beginner. As far as I can tell they are doing well and making progress – also thanks to the supporting environment. You can find her on LinkedIn.
A few words of thank you
Last but not least I want to thank everyone who was ever involved in a free educational program. Be it sponsor, organizer, coach or mentor. You are awesome! Without you all of this would not have been possible. I especially want to highlight Sven Fuchs and TravisCI without whom Rails Girls Summer of Code would not have happened. Period. Also github for their gracious donation (and for being super supportive and awesome in general). And to SoundCloud once again not only for their donation, but for offering work spaces and coaches to 5 students (did I forget anyone?) and the possibility of an internship for two students afterwards.
I’d really like to thank each individual but this blog post is too long already. So this heart will have to do: ♥ But really, thank you so much!
And as for the purpose of this blog post: If you want to hire or just talk to any of the programmers listed here please do so. This of course not only goes for them (those are just the ones that I happen to know pretty well and got permission to “advertise” them). This goes for everyone. There are lots of people out there who want to make a career change and lots of companies in need of good, passionate developers. Get together, together you can reach your goals. Help them make the next step and I’m sure you won’t regret it.