We ❤️ Rails Girls Summer of Code

Posted on by Emma Deacon & Kara de la Marck

Categories: blog and student posts

This post contains songs we recommend listening to whilst reading - we felt that this incredible summer needed an incredible soundtrack to tell its story

We have had an incredible summer: it has been insanely busy and at times overwhelming, but we have both grown enormously as developers and team members. Rails Girls Summer of Code was one of the best decisions we have ever made, and it’s been a pleasure to be part of this superb and inspirational community. Being part of Rails Girls Summer of Code is an incredible opportunity, and it has been a transformative summer for us.

We started the summer enthusiastically, wanting to contribute substantively to Babel. We felt like we needed to take this opportunity to become passionate open source developers.

Rails Girls Summer of Code taught us a lot about the importance of communication, and perseverance. We have received generous support from the Babel community; nonetheless it was disquieting to be joining an open source community where we couldn’t find any other female members.

(Song Credit): Madonna, What It Feels like for a Girl (via YouTube)

It took us about two months to even approach the non Summer of Code channel in the Babel slack. It’s a nerve-wracking experience jumping in and talking to a community of such impressive developers, but as the saying goes: be the change in the world you want to see.

Rails Girls Summer of Code has given us the confidence to be present in the Open Source Community. Our superb Babel mentor Henry Zhu, has been an incredibly positive, kind, and insightful mentor; we’ve been lucky to have him help us and guide us.

As mentioned in our first blog post, our aims of the summer were to a) learn a heck of a lot, and b) improve our pingpong skills. Whilst the latter took a complete tumble, the former fuelled our summer and our learning took us in directions we had not envisioned. Whilst we may never be Olympic Ping Pong-ers, we feel like we spent our summer in a far more productive and positive manner, and we honestly feel like we’re leaving here knowing that this is only the beginning for us.

(Song Credit): Queen, Don't Stop Me Now (via YouTube)

As well as working on Babel, we had the opportunity to learn so much more from the Pivots surrounding us. Our Pivotal mentors taught us Pivotal best practices regarding software development and were generous in answering our questions and in running additional mentoring sessions and talks to share their knowledge. We are so lucky to have had sessions on a range of topics including:

  • Introduction to Operational Semantics (and LaTex)
  • Compilers
  • Containers
  • Testing (TDD, unit testing, and integration testing)
  • Bash Scripting
  • Project Management Practices
  • Debugging Skills
  • Agile Practices
  • Networking 101
  • History of JS and its Frameworks/Libraries
  • Git
  • Managing Dependencies
  • Pairing

We had all of these learning experiences thanks to Pivotal, and to our incredible coaches from Pivotal. We have received an immense amount of knowledge. Whilst we gushed about the breakfast in our first blog post (and it IS an incredible breakfast), the one thing we will always remember is how kind and patient our coaches were with us, and how passionate about teaching and mentoring they all were.

We could not have completed this summer without our supportive and friendly supervisor Ines. Ines has been the biggest supporter we could have hoped for, and she has proven time and time again to be there for us. Our weekly meetings were an absolute joy, and we could not have imagined a nicer person or a better supervisor to communicate our struggles, issues and passions with. She made us realise our goals, and our pitfalls, and helped guide us through moments in the summer where it was incredibly difficult. Ines is the heroine for our Summer. She has been the third musketeer in our group; the third member in our Destiny’s Child.

(Song Credit): Destiny's Child, Independent Women (via YouTube)

This summer, we have both grown and evolved and have learnt about being software developers and team members. Our communication skills have improved tenfold, and we have a better understanding of what it means to be involved in technology teams. We have experienced our own pitfalls, and we had our own barriers, which took awhile to get our heads around (we’re looking at you, pair programming), but it was all part of the crucial learning curve. Whilst there were times we felt we would never work through our issues (-cough- Git -cough-), we have, however, learnt an awful lot about what is needed to try. Rebase. Always rebase when in doubt. And make Bootstrap.

(Song Credit): The Beatles, We Can Work it Out (via YouTube)

We admit we did not complete as much work with Babel as we had hoped. But that’s okay. We fulfilled our major goal for the summer - to learn and obtain as much knowledge as we could. Contributing to Babel was always an ambitious program for us, and we always knew it would be something that was hard.

We certainly have had an eventful and memorable summer. One of the biggest (and hardest) achievements of the summer was presenting both Rails Girls Summer of Code and some of our code to the Pivotal Community. We had not expected to be presenting about the program, but it was such a pleasure to promote such a wonderful organisation.

What we learnt, overall, was that there is still so much more that we can do and that is needed to do to get women into Open Source. We both had an incredible summer, and we are so sad to see it come to a close, but we won’t stop working and helping in this community.


You are the true stars of our summer, and you are continuously changing the world. Thank you for letting us be a part of this narrative for three months :)

(Song Credit): Fleetwood Mac, Don't Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow) (via YouTube)

What is next for us?

Well, we’re both going to continue to contribute to Open Source. Kara is motivated and inspired to continue contributing to Babel. And we both plan on regularly contributing to other open source projects. We’re hoping to talk about Rails Girls Summer of Code to everyone and anyone that will listen to us, and maybe - just maybe - improve our ping pong skills :)

You can find us here