Hello dear readers! My name is Erin Claudio, and I’ve been a Junior Ruby on Rails Developer at Planet Argon since May 2021. Like many Planet Argon devs, I’m the graduate of a coding boot camp, and like many bootcamp grads, I struggled to find meaningful ways to grow my development skills post graduation while searching for my first developer role. How was I going to work on production code without any professional experience? How could I collaborate with other professional developers outside of a full time job? And how could I build up my resume with experience outside of boot camp or side projects?
I struggled with these questions until a mentor recommended the Ruby for Good conference, describing it as a welcoming learning environment for people with all levels of software development experience. It seemed like a great way to not only level up my dev skills but also collaborate with other professional developers on a real-world project.
A little background: Ruby for Good builds software through a network of volunteer technologists for over 150 nonprofit organizations that serve over 2 million people globally. Ruby for Good has hosted 12 software development conferences, totaling over 1,200 attendees. I attended one of these conferences in an attempt to get a better glimpse into what I could expect from the organization.
On the first day of the virtual conference, I felt incredibly overwhelmed and intimidated as I had no idea what would happen. I remember feeling a deep sense of imposter syndrome as many of the people at the conference were well into their tech careers. Thankfully, the mentor who recommended Ruby for Good, Jennifer K., welcomed me into the CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocacy) app team. This application helps CASA staff track the interactions between volunteers and their assigned foster care children.
The CASA app had already been in production for months before the conference. It was with this team that I felt I had found my home. As tickets were being handed out, my mentor claimed one and walked me through the issue it was meant to address, driving the session and allowing me to make my first commit to the project. After the conference, I continued to attend weekly meetings and grew as a developer through the community.
The Senior Developer on the project is Linda G. Linda’s mentorship over those months was an enriching experience. She is patient and brilliant in a way few people are. Her ability to make complex concepts approachable was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had. She took the time to explain many concepts to me and always stressed the importance of writing clean code and meaningful tests.
Ruby for Good was my first experience with how a team tackles a production application—pair coding, meetings with stakeholders, and learning how to read an issue ticket. It was the first time I felt like I knew what a day in the life of a developer could be. I’m very grateful for the time I spent collaborating on the CASA app and couldn’t recommend open-source projects, and Ruby for Good specifically, more.