Team MitPal - Connect Tech 2016

Posted on by Sherri

Categories: blog , student posts and conferences

Summing up Rails Girls Summer of Code (RGSOC) is not a simple task. True. RGSOC was an opportunity to work on an open source project, but the experience was so much more than that. After 3 months of working together on our project, Open Source Event Management System (OSEM), we had developed our own team vibe. We had our routine down pat. We spent our mornings working through our latest issue. We ate our lunches together outside followed by a walk around the block. These times became as important as our time coding. That was our time to talk about our lives, our interests, experiences, and sometimes fears. We learned a lot about working with Ruby, but we learned even more about ourselves as we worked on our project. Ups, downs, joy, laughter (lots of laughter), learning, frustration, and accomplishment. We went through it all. Together. That was one of the best parts.

Anitha and I (Sherri) are Team MitPal. We are two geeky women who decided to change careers. We had the support of two awesome coaches, Pamela Vickers and Pete Holiday. Their help was invaluable. They guided us when we needed to be guided, nudged us when appropriate, and pushed us when necessary.

Our project mentor, Henne Vogelsang, helped us navigate our project and plan our work. We appreciate his patience, insight, and imput.

Shelly Coen, our supervisor. We hit the supervisor jackpot! Whether it was our weekly calls, Slack conversations, or emails, Shelly was there guiding us and checking in on us. Shelly is a rockstar!

So What Did We Do This Summer, You Ask…

We worked on OSEM, an An event management tool tailored to Free and Open Source Software conferences. The OSEM codebase is pretty large, so we had to spend some time ramping up. We worked to set up our environment (Vagrant, Virtual Box, We spent time learning about the application, the technologies used, and looking at the open issues. Our mentor and coaches helped us a lot with this part. Once we figured out which issues we would work on, our coaches helped us break down each issue and decide how to approach it.

We did quite a bit of TDD using RSPEC, which was great experience for us. Some of the work we did summer included integrating a Twitter feed into the app, updating views, and meta tags.

We Attended Connect.Tech

Team MitPal attended the Connect.Tech conference here in Atlanta. A few weeks have passed since the end of RGSOC, and Anitha and I have been having a bit of separation anxiety. So it was great to see each other again. When we arrived, the venue was already busy with folks from all over. We stopped by the registration desk to pick up our I.D. and t-shirt, and then we were off. As we moved through our days, we often talked about how conferences can be a little overwhelming. We put together a few tips that we think may help those that are new to the world of technical conferences.

Plan ahead

Team MitpalConnect.Tech Conference Check In (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

Check out the conference schedule ahead of time and decide which sessions you want to attend. If you are attending with another person, discuss which sessions you have chosen and if you are not going to all of the same talks plan where you will meet afterwards.

Plan for Swag.

Companies come to conferences with lots of stuff to give, and before you know it your bag will be full. So a good rule of thumb is to pack lightly. Don’t bring a lot of extra stuff with you. It’s just more to carry at the end of the day.

Team MitpalConnect.Tech Conference Sponsors (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

Don’t Miss the Keynote

Team MitpalConnect.Tech Conference Keynote (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

Although you may be tempted to sleep in, resist the urge and attend the keynote talks. YOu’ll find some really interesting speakers and divers subjects are covered during the keynotes. It’s also a good time to meet some new people.

Speaking of new people…

Talk to people. Make some new friends.

If you’re like me, you hate the word “Network”. Trying to “Network” just makes me feel awkward. Focus on talking to new people and connecting. Two of the speakers at this Connect.Tech this year were people that I had met at previous conferences. They are really smart and amazing people, and their talks were very imformative.

Team MitpalErica Stanely Speaking about Web-Based Virtual Reality (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

Team MitpalConnect.Tech Conference Web VR (Image: Team MitPal 2106)

Team MitpalDelicia Brummet Speaking on How to Pick a Tech Stack (Image: Team MitPal 2016)

The last tip I have is to take care of yourself. Conferences make for long days. Drink plenty of water. Pace yourself. You don’t have to attend every session. The slides and/or video will be available after the conference. Have fun and enjoy yourself. We sure did!

Where Did the Time Go?

Rails Girls Summer of Code flew by so quickly. Too quickly. When we started, there seemed to be so much for us to do and learn. How would we get it all done? We felt a little wobbly. Unsteady. Not confident in ourselves or our abilities. As the summer moved along we discovered so much about who we are and what we are capable of. We got to know ourselves and each other so well. We had a community of people who cared about us and looked out for us, and we had our team. Team MitPal. We came. We saw. We killed it!

We are so thankful to RGSOC and the whole community of people who made this experience possible. We are stronger and more confident today because of this experience and we are forever greatful.