I knew from the warm welcome I received the moment I met the Rails Girls Helsinki group at their informal get-together in September that these were my kind of people. But I couldn’t have imagined how magical participating in an official Rails Girls event would be. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find out as, on 9 November, I had the joy and honor of becoming “a doubly new Rails Girl” by being both a participant and an organizer for the first time.
Within just minutes, the bubbly and talented Rails Girls co-founder Linda Liukas’s poignant introduction to the workshop had me enthralled. I can hardly believe how much I learned and how much fun I had during the weekend so I’m delighted to share my double Rails Girls experience with you here.
Rails Girls co-founder Linda Liukas
I think the concept of Rails Girls - “to give tools and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas… by providing a great experience on building things and by making technology more approachable” - is exactly what is needed by so many women nowadays, and I was impressed to see it put so simply and beautifully into action. Here’s just some of what I found particularly remarkable about the Helsinki event:
The amazing participants
I recently started studying web development full-time so I’ve naturally been spending hours on end installing programs, writing code and trying to understand new IT terms and concepts. I knew beforehand, however, that this isn’t everyday stuff for most Rails Girls participants, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and with varying levels of computer skills. But each and every one of the participants jumped right into programming without blinking an eye - and they rocked it! At the end of the day, everyone had actually created their very own Rails app, and plenty of us even got them “deployed” (published on the Internet for the whole world to enjoy).
The installation party
My fabulous team
My Rails Girls team consisted of myself and three other women - one studying marketing, one working as a construction engineer and one soon to graduate as a business analyst. They said they were new to programming, but they were soon solving coding problems with flying colors. There was plenty of laughter despite a few “challenges” with our laptops (and lots of high fives when we conquered them together!), and our whole team quickly grasped the information and concepts presented throughout the day.
Our excellent coach
Our coach, Oana, is a lovely .NET programmer who patiently taught us about Rails and advised us about programming in general. It was interesting to hear about her work in a more corporate environment and great to see how calmly and confidently she guided us newbies through our first adventures in the wonderful world of Rails.
Coach Oana helping participants
All the awesome coaches:
Not only did each coach lead their team as supportively as ours did, but, during the lightning talks, they also explained lots of previously mysterious jargon with some hilarious examples, shared stories about their diverse career paths (and a video game with a leaping Wombat!) and gave advice about how we could find our way in IT. They are clearly masters in their field and inspiring role models for us aspiring techies…
Coaches / Organizers Timo and Satu giving some advice
The dedicated organizers
Even though some of the organizers aren’t even programmers themselves, they clearly value the importance of Rails Girls too as all the organizers generously devote their time and energy to make each Rails Girls event a success. Their enthusiasm is so infectious that I signed up to help them before I had even applied for this workshop, and they immediately made me feel a real part of their fantastic team.
Organizer Lotta giving the traditional sparkling wine welcome
If you have even the slightest interest in technology (which everyone should nowadays, right?!), I absolutely recommend that you attend a Rails Girls workshop in your area and get involved in the community as well. You will be amazed at how much fun you can have with programming and how fascinating and empowering technology can be!
Text by Kelli Orrela
Photos by Yu Shen