On being a RailsConf opportunity scholar guide
My love for the Ruby community goes back 2006 when it saved me from my Java and government contracting induced burnout, making programming fun again. As Matz (Yukihiro Matsumoto) so often says, he wrote Ruby to make programmers happy.
Because Ruby has done so much for me, I try to find ways to give back. RailsConf 2014 provided another avenue by introducing the “Opportunity Scholar” program. Over one hundred individuals applied but only twenty were accepted. All of the selected scholars were relatively new to programing and especially new to the Ruby community. For each accepted scholar, the program provided free attendance and one or two Guides to facilitate their RailsConf experience.
My scholar, Deana Del Vecchio, and I first met at a conf-hosted Scholar-Guide mixer the evening before the conference. To digress slightly, I was one of two Guides assigned to Deana. My counterpart, Amber Houle, was an inspired choice: Amber was an Opportunity Scholar herself at RubyConf 2013, putting her in a unique position to relate to Deana.
Trying to maximize my utility to Deana, our first conversation felt a little like a job interview. We discussed Deana’s goals for RailsConf, her level of comfort at RailsConf and need and desire for guidance, and her previous experience with both Ruby and Rails. Deana indicated that she was hoping to find work as an entry level Rails developer, was open to relocating from her current home near San Francisco, and that she was a physics major in college, having worked with both Python and C++ but not yet Ruby.
I feel that Chicago is an excellent place for a new developer looking to make a start with Ruby on Rails. This is the city that gave us the Software Craftsmanship movement and, as an outgrowth of that, Software Apprenticeship. As such, several companies in Chicago have a deep abiding commitment to growing software developers. And so, over the length of the conference, I introduced Deana to severallocal Chicago developers who I know to have a strong commitment to apprenticeship: Noel Rappin from Table XI, Michael Norton from Groupon, and Coraline Ehmke from Instructure.
I don't know what Deana's future has in store for her. However, I suspect she will do magnificently. She just needs that right first opportunity to start her career. If you're looking for an apprentice, you should reach out to her!
For me, though, the best part of the whole experience for me? That’s easy: