Team MitPal – Getting it Started

Posted on by Sherri

Categories: blog and student posts

Team MitpalSherri and Anitha on the First Day of RGSOC (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

This July we, Anitha and Sherri, began our Rails Girls Summer of Code journey as Team MitPal. We first met at Rails Girls Atlanta meetings, and learned how similar our backgrounds were. We both have backgrounds working in the IT field in non-development roles and have some coding experience. Pamela Vickers, our Rails Girls Organizer recognized that we would make a good team for RGSOC and suggested that we pair up. She also upped the ante by becoming one of our coaches along with Pete Holiday. Our mentor, Henne Volgelsang, and supervisor, Shelly Coen, round out our team. Our project for this summer is Open Source Event Manager (OSEM), an open-source event management software tailored for free software conferences. We’ve been training on our own to become software developers, and have set some big goals for ourselves this summer. Our ultimate goal at the end of our journey is to find our first job in development.

Anitha I have a Masters in Communication and Network Engineering, and worked as a software engineer in test for an year in India. Due to personal reasons I had to quit my job and moved to the US 6 years ago. I always felt that solving problems and learning new skills would make me a satisfied and happy person. To make myself happy and bootstrap my career, I have been learning web technology through MOOC courses, bootcamp, meetups and other resources. I thought that a more focused and comprehensive hands-on training like Rails Girls Summer of Code would help me become a more well rounded software developer. I am very excited to contribute to a huge, open source project.

Sherri I have a degree in Public Relations, but began my IT career right after college when I became a technical writer for a startup. From there I moved into Business Analysis when another company I worked for had a need and asked me to join the team. I always wanted to be a developer, but it was difficult to transition to another role. There was always another project that needed attention, and the promise of opportunity ‘in the future’. Finally, I decided to take the leap and focus all my attention on changing my career and life. I trained on my own for awhile, but I felt that I needed to take classes in a focused environment. I then decided to attend a bootcamp here in Atlanta and completed the backend engineering program there a little over a year ago. Since then I have been looking for my first software engineering job. I felt that RGSOC would be a great way to train and learn in a supportive environment.

The first couple of weeks have been a blur, but as we reflect on it all we have gained a lot of valuable experience in a short time. We have gained experience working with another developer, figuring out things together instead of working alone. We get to learn by example by watching our coaches figure out problems, and then taking that knowledge and apply it to what we are doing. We’ve learned how to analyze an issue, troubleshoot a problem, and research different solutions. We are figuring out how to approach developing a solution. We’ve also learned how to use tools like Byebug, and most importantly how to ask for help and what questions to ask. Fail fast, and ask for help quickly.

Team MitpalTeam MitPal and Coaches. l-r clockwise: Anitha, Sherri, Pete, Pamela (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

As we move through this experience, we learn more about ourselves and how to navigate this new landscape. Some of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned are:

  • Be patient with yourself
  • Schedule regular breaks. Get away from the code.
  • Read Apprenticeship Patterns
  • Talk to your partner and discuss the best ways for you communicate as a team
  • Pace yourself
  • If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t tried. Failure is a part of learning.

Some days truly feel like there is so much we want to do, but so little time to do it in. We are learning to pace ourselves and celebrate all of our victories. This week we are going to continue moving forward and finish working on our first issue and create our first pull request. Our next big goal is to work on adding a newsletter option to the application. We’ll keep learning and keep doing.