RGSoC 2018 Moments from Rails Girls Summer of Code on Vimeo.
We can’t believe time went by so fast, but Rails Girls Summer of Code 2018 is over! And while the program has ended, we know that this is the start of multiple beginnings: It could be a participant’s first time application to a job, receiving their first job offer as a software developer, or working on a new OSS project.
In spite of all these new beginnings, some things will carry on from this year’s RGSoC; we are proudly talking about all the students who decide to continue contributing to the Open Source projects they worked on during the summer, and all the friendships and work relationships that have been developed during our program.
These special friendships are what makes our community exceptional. And as a community, wee got together and coordinated, funded, trained, mentored and supervised 26 people who are now on their way to make a change in tech and in Open Source. We couldn’t be more proud of our students’ growth since day one! You have been inspiring us in the past 3 months and we know for sure that you will continue to inspire a whole lot of other people in the future.
We are profoundly grateful to all of the students, coaches, mentors, supervisors, organizers, sponsors and individual donors who helped make RGSoC 2018 a reality. Thank you for believing in our mission and in the importance of making Open Source a better place for everyone. We hope to have your support in the years to come!
Let’s keep in touch!
And on that note: If you would like to receive RGSoC updates for the next time we launch the program—such as information on the OSS project submissions and student applications opening — please subscribe to our newsletter using this link. We promise we won’t spam you.
Another thing: if you’d like to keep in touch with our students, coaches, mentors and supervisors, we suggest you check our twitter lists here and our RGSoC twitter moment.
RGSoC 2018 Sponsors (image by Ana Sofia Pinho)
Hurdles of a beginning developer
So, you’ve done a bootcamp, congratulations you’re now a programmer!! It’s weird to think that now you have a developers’ certificate for the whole world to see, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re a dev. Now you can start applying for jobs as a junior developer and dip your toes in a new project. With this new job comes your first programming experience, and the ups and downs of being a junior in a field of seniors.
When we wrapped up our bootcamp, we didn’t feel confident that we had a dev toolkit; we were so lucky to come across and be able to apply for a Summer of Code together. Entering a program where you can start learning by doing was a great opportunity to dip our toes into a real project and an amazing stepping-stone to an eventual job. We spent some time after our bootcamp classes checking our application and searching for coaches. We had our doubts during the process, thinking we would be so lucky if we were to be chosen, so we chose the projects that we felt comfortable with and most familiar. We reached out to the community to find coaches willing to invest time for a whole three months during the program. Alina already knew who our first coach would be, Daniel. By reaching out to reddit Amsterdam community we found our second coach Jack.
Ana Sofia from RGSoC organization
We felt a bit like imposters even..
With hindsight I guess we’ve been blessed with the way everything worked out for us. We got into the program quickly, even though there were lots of good teams to choose from. I think we didn’t expect that we had been selected, when the news came. I guess we felt a bit like imposters even, with so little coding coding experience and always thinking that we don’t know enough. Even though Rails Girls is meant for teams like ours, there’s definitely still a voice in the back of your head telling you don’t have what it takes.
We’ve realised that it’s actually good to have that voice there, since it will probably stay with us our whole career (we might as well get used to it). Seasoned developers online even have a blogs on the subject of imposter syndrome. It’s good to learn early on that this is there to stay. It’s selfishly nice to know that every developer out there has these feelings, and it doesn’t seem to matter how experienced you are. In the end coding comes down to this feeling, but the only expectations you’re not meeting are the ones YOU CREATE for yourself. Things like algorithms, frameworks, new tech can be learned, with enough effort and time.
A potato for every occasion
We learned during the program that there’s so much more to coding, than programming itself. That basic feeling of not knowing enough to do the job is something we will encounter in life on many different ways. But with coding, it’s a day to day business, the confrontation with not knowing. As humans, most of the time we have an option to choose: go bungee jumping for the first time or not. This seems to be the overarching theme of coding, too. There is so much to learn, that every coding challenge is another decision of whether to jump. You never know what you’re going to get. So if you’re prepared to take a challenge, you’ll grow on the fly, and code through it. It will never be the same thing twice, and definitely won’t be as you expected, but it will feel adventurous. I guess what we want to say is that we can choose if we want to live the fear or not. Feeling adventurous ? become developer : choose another profession.
We both had part time jobs when we started Rails Girls. Alina was a growth-hacking trainer, and Sabine was (and still is) a front-end developer at her company. We’ve had to make sacrifices to find time for everything, but we both knew the best way for us to continue our growth as developers was to learn by doing. Actually working on a project for an intense period and lots of hours has caused us to grow exponentially. This is exactly what we wanted and needed when starting a different career path. Working on our project has consolidated a lot of our progress and gave us more confidence in developing and knowing that we can learn if we persevere. We were so humbled to get a chance to do that with Stretchly and Rails Girls.
Talk to each other
Part of our way of overcoming our fears and anxieties was to talk to each other. As a team we are very open about issues we encounter in the project or in our personal lives. So, whenever we were stressed about an issue we discussed it first thing. It helped us to reconsider or get other viewpoints to a code problem or situation. Having mentors, coaches, teammates to rely on has provided us with an environment where we felt comfortable and safe.
Even so, the list of hurdles we encounter as junior developers grows bigger every day. To name a few, this is what we’ve come across:
- Not enough documentation written for our innocent junior dev eyes (it takes hours to sometimes decipher documentation)
- Working with timezones in any code is a huge pain! Just ask Jan (our mentor), Dan (our coach), or Jack (our coach) and they will confirm
- Interview question: What is a DNS? Domain Name System Go figure!
- Junior software-engineer job listing: minimum 3 years of experience
- Corrupting git branch data to a point of no return (queue Phantom of the Opera soundtrack in the background)
Courtesy Forbes Conrad Macau Bridge
Just like we’ve found solutions to most of these, we’re determined to chip at this list one issue at a time, and bungee jump as much as it takes :)
Overall, we had a great smooth time at Rails Girls, with very few hiccups along the way because we were lucky to have our amazing supervisors and mentors. Going forward, I think we’ll find that having a network to rely on will be one of the most effective ways to overcome these struggles. We can only hope that one day we’ll be at a level where we can provide the same type of support for future aspiring devs!
Wow, it’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over! And it is even harder to believe that we started working together on this project only (almost) 3 months ago… At the beginning of the project, we were excited to be a part of all this, but we had no idea what was ahead of us. Now we can say that we were part of an amazing project. It was a great summer and we will be always grateful for this opportunity!
Obrigada - or thank you if you don’t know Portuguese :), RGSoC!
Team Brazilian Housewives coding! picture taken by Julio Albinati
How was our experience?
During our summer, we learned… A lot! We had the opportunity to learn much more than simply programming in a new language or using new tools, but also about teamwork! And many times that was our biggest challenge! We have learned that communication is one of the most important thing when we are collaborating with several people - remotely or not.
In addition, we learned a lot about APIs implementation, Rails, Ruby, MySQL, Git… Oh, all the rebases that didn’t work, such special moments!
So far, what did we do?
Our summer project is the Public Lab, a community and non-profit democratizing science to address environmental issues that affect people. They are really cool, check it out!
Two months ago when we started working on the project, we had to spend a lot of our first week studying the Public Lab code and documentation. We chose to work on the API because it was something new for us. We studied the basics such as what is an API, what is a RESTful API, RubyGrape and Swagger - an open source tools for creating and documenting API’s.
After refactoring some part of the API we were able to identify the endpoints that needed urgent improvements and we worked hard on making some of them more efficient. Our work was mostly done on the back-end but we are really proud of the new /search page that we are working, that will be soon alive on the project’s website.
We used the Github Projects page to keep track of our work and to break our tasks into small parts:
Photo credit: Github Public Lab projects page - API project
And thank you so much to our amazing team:
Our supervisor Mayar, you’re so sweet and helped us a lot during our summer <3
Our mentorJeff, thank you for your time and all of your reviews of our countless Pull Requests :D
And of, course, our coaches, Thiago and Julio. You helped us so much, especially when we were stuck or lost xD. You are an inspiration for both of us, keep shipping! :)
Well, now you can call us the Brazilian
housewives developers coding! Now we are super ready to embrace new challenges to come! See you around, RGSoC!
Our Happy Ending - All things must come to an end, but every end becomes a new beginning.
We cannot believe that it’s September and RGSoC is ending soon. It seems like just yesterday, we were prepping up our application forms !
We were asked the following question in our application forms “Why are you applying to RGSoC ? What would you like to achieve by the end of the summer ?“
Here’s a short excerpt from our answer as the actual answers are too long.
“We want to improve our ability to understand a large codebase and become better developers. We want to become confident individuals who can manage their time effectively. Through RGSoC we want to meet women who have broken norms and set standards to come together and change pre-conceived notions. We want to make new friends from all over the world with whom we can share ideas and get insights on our code !”
As we looked back at the summer, we asked ourselves, “Did we achieve any of that ? “
The answer is a big YES. We achieved all that and a lot more than we had hoped for ! :)
Things we learnt
Test Driven Development - Indians have this term “Jugaad”, roughly translated “jugaad” is a hack or a workaround. Before RGSoC, we used a lot of “jugaad” to make our codes work. Through RGSoC, we learnt to write proper, optimized, linted code that had to adhere to certain standards. We refactored our code many times and no longer use “jugaad”.
Collaborating - Lots and lots of pair programming sessions ! We have learnt many techniques and strategies by watching our mentors code.
Code Reviews - We learnt how to work on code reviews and also how to review others’ code.
Git - Git is awesome. We had to close a PR because our commit history was unclean. Ever since, we have started squashing commits and writing proper commit messages.
Time management - Juggling University with RGSoC wasn’t easy. We learnt how to utilise our time wisely. These three months meant less outings, less Netflix and chill, but it was totally worth it.
Tech Stack - Ruby on Rails, ReactJS, Enzyme, Jest, RSpec, Capybara.
Challenges we faced
We were completely new to test-driven development and we initially used to write code that worked just fine. When the CircleCi tests would fail continuously, we realized that we had to write clean, efficient code and also write tests before pushing the code.
Initially we used to think our doubts and errors were silly, and that we would be judged for asking such simple questions to our coaches or mentors. Slowly, we learnt that no question is silly, and asking saves a lot of time.
What we have achieved?
1000+ lines of code written!
14 Pull Requests submitted, 8 merged, 4 in progress!
23 issues created (for further enhancement of if-me)!
7 Pair programming sessions!
The friends we made
We met such amazing people. We cannot believe we have friends from Korea, Berlin, Delhi, Africa, Spain etc. The love, positivity and goodwill the RGSoC community fosters is just amazing. Special mention to RGSoC Slack. It is our favourite slack channel :)
Terrific Thursdays - We are going to miss our sweet and adorable supervisor Srishti. We loved chatting with you on Thursdays every week. Thank you for being such a great support during the past three months.
If-me community - Julia, Alvaro, Camille, we had a blast working with you all. Thank you for all the encouraging words, dealing with our silly doubts and for making us better developers. RGSoC would not have been possible without you all.
Alvaro's Tweet (Credit: Twitter)
Julia's Tweet (Credit: Twitter)
Srishti's Tweet (Credit: Twitter)
Atibhi's Tweet (Credit: Twitter)
The ending is only a beginning in disguise. What’s next for us ?
First and foremost, if-me is amazing and we want to be associated with it for as long as possible. We will continue contributing to it and hopefully become mentors for if-me in the next-edition of RGSoC !
We were the first team from our college to make it into RGSoC, we want to mentor other girls and encourage them to apply to RGSoC next year. Other than RGSoC, we want to mentor others through programs like LearnIt girl, GSoC etc.
We also want to use our learning experience to land awesome internships next year and continue to grow as developers.
Heatwave: 2018 was the hottest summer for UK
And not just the weather. Girls Code MK was on fire with their Bahmni project.
Lots of learning, fun and motivation for the future
Quantitative measures of our project
Girls Code MK Infographic (Drawn by Georgina Hodgkinson)
We have had a great time. We have learnt so much. A 90 day - 3 month sprint to focus has helped us learn far more than if we spent the time doing a course or boot camp. Having a real project, with real problems changes how you learn. It has also gone faster than what we thought. We will now refer to life before and after RGSoC!
As our infographic shows the quantitative measures of our RGSoc. The qualitative measures have been far greater. We have laughed, we have struggled with problems, we have found out what we are capable of, we have learnt about ourselves as much as code, we have achieved more than we thought we could. We have tasted success of a project that met its objective and we are proud to demo and show others. Our confidence of learning code, talking about technical projects and discussing what problems we are having and also being more comfortable in saying that we don’t know but know how to find out.
Setting up and improving our working environment
We spent time at the beginning of the project setting up how we would work and our working environment. We put our schedules together and worked out the best times for us to meet, work together and zoom or google hangout with our coaches, mentors and supervisors.
At times we needed to refine and change and open communication was our key to a successful team.
Technologies we have learnt
Agile working with Jira, slack, zoom
Design layouts using inVisionapp
Git, github, Travis CI, Jest
Top resources we would recommend
Bahmni Project on github
Free Code Camp
Jira Project Management tool
InVision App for our UI Designs
Code with mosh react course
Richard Branson “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” So if you are doubting you are good enough. If you get the opportunity say YES and learn how to do it, you won’t regret it!
If you get the chance to apply for RGSoC do it. You won’t regret it.
To learn it takes patience, support and space to grow. We have had all 3 of these during RGSoC.
We all learn at a different pace, in different ways but we all have something to offer and we learn more when we share with each other. RGSoC has a great community and alumni.
Life after RGSoC
Georgina has gained in confidence to learn more in the field of software engineering, give more talks and continue to inspire other women and girls into software engineering. The next steps for Georgina, is to attend the React.js conference in Verona in October, look at attending the Node.js conference. Georgina is on the technical path of the toastmaster course to gain more skills in talking in public and to larger audiences. Georgina will also create and pitch her MVP app and present for investment and funding in 2019.
Eva will continue to divide her time between coding and GirlsCode MK including organising Django Girls MK, CryptoParty MK and Ada Lovelace Wikipedia-edit-a-thon. GirlsCode MK has also been accepted to a local accelerator starting October - so that we can make it even better and bigger in the future! With her new-gained coding skills, Eva has already landed a couple of projects that she will take on after RGSoC. And, of course, there’s Bahmni!
We are both going to do a demo of our project at Thought Works office in London and will be streamed to their Berlin office on 2 November.
Other teams of RGSoC on slack, coaches, mentors and organisers of RGSoC, we have your links on social media and hope to continue to follow you.
Last post would not be complete without …
Thank you to
Ramon who met us weekly, checking in and making sure our welfare was good. He was always positive, we loved his support and smiles on a Monday morning - far better than any coffee!
Ivo - for his unfailing guidance, the right balance of learning but also guiding so we didn’t become overwhelmed. His weekly meetings, feedback on our code and management of the project. His dedication to writing stories and providing us with information even during his wedding season! Congratulations to his friends that got married over summer.
Wolf - for such a warm introduction and getting us started with the Bahmni project especially giving up your lunch times.
Neil - for all his knowledge and his fabulous git workshop
Kalan - for his guidance especially on testing
PJ and Rob for helping during girls code sessions.
RGSoC Organisers : for setting up RGSoC meetups, organising tickets for conferences, all the admin work that goes into organising these summers. You Rock!!
Bahmni Project specific - Thoughtworks: For their patience and time for letting us help out on their project that they have a keen interest in.
Thank you to our family for their unwavering support and putting up with our mood swings when code wasn’t working or we couldn’t work things out!
Girls Code MK Door Poster (Drawn by Eva's wife - Valerie Benguiat)
You can continue to follow our journey after RGSoC here:
Eva - Girls Code MK - Twitter
Georgina’s - Twitter