The RGSoC Day Off 2015

Posted on by Sara

Three months is a long time to go without a break, so we like to schedule a day off mid-program. While it’s not required to take the day off, we highly recommend that participants take it to regroup, relax, and do something other than coding.

As has become the tradition, the Berlin teams got together for the HitFox/SoundCloud Houseboat party, which was a blast! It’s a great opportunity for Berlin-based organizers, mentors, coaches and students to have some offline time together.


Team Alster Hamburgers dedicated themselves to helping others on their day off, by volunteering at a Refugee Centre in Hamburg, sorting clothing donations.

Team DEIGirls did some adventuring in a rope park, through tree canopies.

Sky Garden


Team Tessie enjoyed some delicious looking pancakes

The #rgsoc day off means pancakes just because. @railsgirlssoc

A photo posted by shelly (@sherribobbins) on


Team Fanxhe took some time to laze by the pool and enjoy the beautiful Mexican weather.


Whatever each student did, we hope each and every one of them enjoyed taking a breather and being AFK for the day :)

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our 2nd Conference raffle, and some ‘kinda’ secret projects we’ve been undertaking at Orga HQ ;)

How to survive your RGSoC as a student

Posted on by Laura

It’s already August and we’re now halfway through the program. This means that as a team, you’ve already had six weeks of working together, pair-programming, discussing ideas and new concepts. For a lot of you, this may be a completely new experience, and we realise that it’s difficult to cope with all these new tools and ‘to-dos’.

RGSoC is about your own learning process

It’s great to contribute to Open Source Software, but it might be daunting at first. This is why we provide you with a direct contact to project maintainers – this program is made to, first and foremost, connect you to the Open Source community and to encourage you to try something new. Of course you want to produce high-level, durable code; but before producing great code, you have to produce code that’s a little less than great – and we think that’s perfectly okay. This is how you learn.

Every student is different

..And every team will have a different experience throughout the summer.
A lot of teams are connecting to each other and communicating, or looking at how other teams’ projects are progressing. We think that’s amazing and love seeing all that activity and exchange taking place between teams. But don’t forget that everyone works at their own pace, even within a team: this isn’t a competition, and though it’s important to look at what the other students do, you shouldn’t necessarily always compare yourself with other teams. Every team is different and we embrace diversity: That’s what makes Rails Girls Summer of Code great!

Talk about your goals

What connects all of the students participating in the program is their common interest in programming. Different students have different goals for the end of the summer – some of you want to learn and contribute as much as you can, some of you want to experience ALL THE THINGS, and others want to find a job by the end of the summer. You might even want a combination of all three. The way you work on your project and with your team mate will help you achieve these goals, so talk about it openly with your team mate, supervisor, and your coaches. If they all know exactly what you want, it will be easier for them to help you through it.

Ask for help

Asking for help is a whole skill in itself. You might have very high expectations of yourself and be certain that, in order to meet those expectations, you have to make it by yourself. But it’s really difficult for a single individual to achieve a lot of their goals on their own. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of: it’s not a sign of weakness, it just shows that you appreciate the skills that people have and trust them enough to help you.
If you are stuck on a problem, give yourself a certain amount of time to think about it, to try things out, and to fix it on your own. If that doesn’t work, talk to your team mate or your coach. Tell them where it is that you’re stuck, and what things you have tried. Often a fresh perspective is all you need.
We’ve also set up a helpdesk slack channel where you can ask specific questions if you are stuck or something doesn’t work, or even very basic or general questions that you have about programming or your tools. All the volunteers in the helpdesk channel are super happy to be of help, so don’t hesitate to drop in there and ask. Of course, if you see a fellow student needing help in there, you can help them out, too!

Keep motivated

Keeping the motivation up for three full months is difficult. You spend a lot of time with your team mate and they might be starting to get on your nerves, or you might be a little behind on your project plan. Sometimes personal problems arise, or situations take an unexpected turn. There are a million little things that might go wrong during the program and keep you from staying motivated.
If you’ve been doing a lot of pair-programming, shake it up by spending a day or two working on separate tasks. Take regular breaks during your work day when you feel that you can’t focus, maybe by going on a 10-minute walk to clear your head. Also try to ‘switch off’ in the evenings and on weekends by letting go of everything programming-related: There is only so much your brain can learn and ‘save’ at once. You have to let it rest sometimes!

Look back at your very first day of Rails Girls Summer of Code, and realise how much you have achieved since! We’re not just talking about code, but about all the things you’ve learned: setting up your project, having a daily routine and stand-ups with your team, using a lot of new tools. You, yes YOU, have achieved all of that in SIX WEEKS, and we think that’s pretty impressive. Give yourself a pat on the back, take a deep breath, and get ready for the remaining month and a half.

Introducing Team Alpha Ruby (α ❤ ✌)

Posted on by Ariane and Ramya

Hello everybody! We are Team Alpha Ruby, Ariane and Ramya - no team name pun intended ;-).

During Rails Girls Summer of Code 2015, we will be working on the Official Ruby Documentation Redesign

Our team has wonderful support on this journey from our mentor Zachary Scott and our coaches Barbara Barbosa and Stella Miranda. Furthermore Benedikt Deicke provides additional input and help as our team’s supervisor.

Team Alpha Ruby
The amazing members of Team Alpha Ruby - From top left to bottom right:
Ariane, Ramya, Zach, Barbara and Stella (Photo credit: Team Alpha Ruby)

Why ‘Team Alpha Ruby (α ❤ ✌)’? What does the name mean?

It is not easy to come up with a name at first, then suddenly you have an idea and it just sounds right. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and is used in formal and natural sciences. Ruby is the programming language that we use for our project.

α ❤ ✌= Alpha loves victories Team Alpha Ruby loves victories and we achieve these with our effort.

The resulting name ‘Alpha Ruby’ emphasizes the value and our goals during Rails Girls Summer of Code: learning and being successful during our journey.

How did you hear about the SoC and why did you apply?

Ramya: I was referred by my friend Ariane, and now we are successfully working as a team. We are two passionate girls, who like to learn new technologies and communicate with people.

Ariane: I had interest to learn Ruby and a friend shared information about this event. Rails Girls Summer of Code for me is about learning and improving my knowledge in programing by contributing to a great Open Source project.

Rails Girls Summer of Code allows to meet like-minded people and is a great opportunity to expand our knowledge. Furthermore the stipend provides a security and allows to concentrate and work full time on the project

What are you working on?

The goal of our project, the Official Ruby Documentation Redesign is to design an attractive and useful template for reading Ruby documentation, made available as the official ruby-lang.org language reference documentation http://docs.ruby-lang.org/

Our goal is to become proficient with Ruby during this project, so that we can become contributors to the Ruby documentation.

What is your happiest moment so far?

The were several unique and very special moments: First of all it was wonderful to know that we have been selected. The second moment was when we felt “it is the real deal :-)”: It was our initial kick off call with our entire team and the hangout with our organizers.

It was also such a wonderful and amazing moment to meet up with other teams and event organizers at the Kick Off Barbecue in Berlin.

Recently we noticed that we won the lottery, the jackpot…. (sorry, we are just too amazed here) We were selected in the conference raffle to go to EuRuKo 2015 (European Ruby Conference) in October.

What are you most looking forward for this summer?

The three most important things for us are: Learning everyday, making new friends and having fun. Result: An amazing Rails Girls Summer of Code :-)

Last but not least :-)

It has been very rewarding to learn something new everyday. We are enjoying to discover new technologies and each day is a challenging, but very rewarding. We hope to deliver great product to the Ruby community at the end.

We would like to thank our mentor, coaches, supervisor and the Rails Girls Summer of Code organization for this wonderful experience.

The RGSoC Day Off is back!

Posted on by Laura

You’ve all been eagerly waiting for it and it’s finally here – the 2015 RGSoC Day-Off!

What’s the RGSoC Day Off?

The Day Off marks the approaching end (sadface) of the summer. We usually organise it towards the end of August and see it as a way for you to turn off your computer for a day and recharge. Working and learning are great, but relaxing is just as important!

How does it work?

Seriously, just take a day off! We encourage all students to do something outdoors if the weather is nice, or something they’ve never tried before.. or to even just spend a whole day not doing anything special but also not thinking about methods or test-driven development! Here are a couple of ideas if you’re feeling adventurous. You’re of course welcome to spend your day off with your team mate, but can also spend it alone, or with friends – or if you feel like it, with your coaches or nearby teams.

Sounds great! When is it?

The Day Off will be on August 27th – it’s a Thursday. Yay, this almost calls for a long weekend!

Will you organise something in Berlin?

Like last year, there will also be a Day Off on August 27th in Berlin, with a boat party organised by two of our sponsors: HitFox and SoundCloud. Just like for the kick-off party, you’re welcome to join us if you’re in the area (or fly over if you really want to) – we just ask that you let us know in advance, because we have limited space on the boat: we wouldn’t want to be crammed like sardines in there ;)

(Image: Buzzfeed)

So go and make the best out of your RGSoC Day Off – and feel free to post pictures or tweet about it using the #rgsocdayoff hashtag! <3

JRubyConf and eurucamp 2015

Posted on by Laura

On the last week(end) of July, some of us – Rails Girls Summer of Code core organisers – headed to Potsdam for JRubyConf and eurucamp. JRubyConf, a one-day conference, had reached out to us because they found themselves with a pretty terrible male to female speaker ratio. In order to make this problem more visible, they wanted to involve Sara and me as MCs and Anika as a speaker – talking about why we need diverse communities and how to achieve that. As the JRubyConf team explained very well in this blog post, it is everyone’s responsibility, especially conference organisers’, to try and change things.
Knowing that JRubyConf is the only conference worldwide that focuses on JRuby and that it is a highly niche and technical conference, Sara and I were a bit intimidated about stepping out of our comfort zone into a community we didn’t know so well. Thanks to the organisers Tobi and Lucas, who answered all of our questions, introduced us to the speakers and trusted us to guide and entertain the audience, we felt at ease and discovered just how passionate and friendly the JRuby community is, too.

It was great to see Anika’s talk be so well-received among the JRubyConf audience, and we surely hope that this was a first step towards a more diverse audience and line-up in the years to come.

eurucamp, which is run by the same orga team, is also familiar with the issue of diversity in tech – as a renowned fun and inclusive, but less technical, conference, it’s a good go-to conference for newcomers into our Ruby Community. Their initiative to reach out to Rails Girls Study Groups and Rails Girls Berlin surely helped to appeal to more women and the range of speakers and their topics made for a very varied and exciting talk roster (with 54% female speakers!)

One great initiative that was started as an experiment and set up in the 48 hours before the conference started, was the idea of the “eurucamp guides”. Due to the high numbers of Study Group members who’d be attending the conference and needing guidance, Sven Fuchs (one of the RubyMonstas organisers) brought together a few “eurucamp guides” who’d be in charge of helping these newcomers. This meant being available to them to introduce them to people and show them around the venue. In the end, very few of the guides ended up needing to be around; however I feel that this is an interesting and helpful concept, and would love to see the idea of “conference guides” at other conferences as well and at the next eurucamp.

What I like most about eurucamp, apart from the good mix of technical and social talks, is the fact that at times it hardly ever feels like an ordinary, ‘just talks’, conference. A lot at JRubyConf and eurucamp is built around the conferences themselves: workshops, guided tours, screenings, all wrapped up into something called RubyWeek. The Saturday afternoon siesta was a revelation for me the first time I attended eurucamp in 2013; the idea of breaking free from conference talks for a few hours in order to go swimming, socialise, hack away on a new project or learn cross-stitching and martial arts felt revolutionary and very welcome (especially in the middle of summer). As a newcomer to the Ruby community at the time, it gave me the possibility to discover that I am surrounded by people with interesting hobbies and to talk at length with them.
I feel that this conference is a conference you should attend at least once. I love the idea that every year, new people attend not knowing what to expect and end their weekend being happily surprised at the amount of things they discovered and great people they met; and that some of them, like me, enjoy it enough to come back year after year.

Both JRubyConf and eurucamp are great at making attendees feel included; the offer of daycare for parents who come to the conference with their kids is a great example of making the attending of a conference easier for everyone. Another great example is the fantastic work of Kimberly Turnage, the live stenographer; converting live speech to text for three days in a row, for every speaker and each introduction, is not an easy task and her incredible speed and abilities allowed several people (for example the hearing impaired or people whose native language isn’t English) to be able to easily follow talks as well as discussions and not feel lost or left out.

My favourite moments in a nutshell: Seeing the Rubycorns on stage, Team AlsterHamburgers giving a lightning talk about Rails Girls Summer of Code, the screening of “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap” (and the group discussion that ensued), Lucas’ “bananas” announcements, and the fact that it only took asking the team for tea to get some delivered right away to the coffee stand (for non-coffee drinkers).

Sadly, at the end of the conference, the organisers announced that there would be no eurucamp 2016 – at least not in this size. It is a mammoth task to organise a conference, and eurucamp (for all the pleasure it gives the attendees and organisers) is no exception. We should all show our gratitude to the unsung heroes and heroines of our community, who do everything to make these events possible. To all organisers, volunteers and extra hands that helped make eurucamp happen: Thank You! Your hard work is not lost on us. Enjoy your well-deserved break and know that your event has made a huge mark on many lives and that we are looking forward to the next one - whenever it will be.

(Photo: eurucamp/Fanny Krebs)

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