On the second day of festivus my colleague gave to me, two pink galahs!

Blog: Two marketers, two mentors and plenty of coding errors.  

After working as a communications and marketing professional in the tech industry for almost a decade, I thought it was about time I learnt how to code or at the very least get a better understanding as to what’s involved. I definitely had a preconceived idea (or perhaps a marketing view) of what coding meant.

Fast forward two months and as a marketing team we were presented with an opportunity to sponsor Rails Girls Melbourne; a community event run by volunteers that gives women an opportunity to learn, develop skills and BUILD their ideas. Yes, build being the operative word – they actually teach you how to build an application in Ruby on Rails – pretty cool right!

My colleague Dom and I thought, why not, let’s give this coding thing a go! After signing up to the workshop, Dom and I were excited by the possibility of becoming developers – telling our boss that he better get ready to find a new marketing team because he will have two new software engineers by the weeks end! Although he seemed to find that funny, he did offer to give us our first assignment (an internal project of course).

We wanted to be prepped and ready for the workshop, so prior to the Installation Party on the Friday night we decided to do some homework – not that this was required, it was purely driven by Dom’s desire to be ‘top of the class’. We also pre-installed Ruby and Rails on our laptops to give us more time to learn and develop during the workshop.

We attended the Installation Party and met some amazing women from all walks of life, who like us, had limited to no coding experience. We were introduced to our Mentors who would be coaching us on the Saturday – lucky for us, two of the Mentors work here at DiUS – Ricky, our Delivery Manager in Sydney and JC, a Software Engineer from our Melbourne office. The organisers and volunteers also gave us a short presentation on what to expect from the workshop and an introduction into the fundamentals of web applications.

We arrived bright and early on the Saturday, laptops in hand and feeling excited about the day ahead. The day began with another quick presentation, followed by an interactive tutorial covering the basics of the Ruby language, and then it was straight into building our very first application!

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Getting ready to code at Rails Girls.

Surprisingly, Dom and I managed to build an application – and I must say, it actually didn’t look that bad. There were a couple of database rebuilds required (mostly on my part) as I had managed to break my application – luckily our Mentor was always on hand to walk me through the problem and help with a fix.

Coming from a non-technical background, and being more of a creative type, I had to dig deep into the side of my brain I rarely use.  Admittedly, I found it difficult at times to understand the different methods (using strings, integers and arrays) and the reasoning behind writing a block (a chunk of Ruby code) for a specific outcome. Needless to say, I had many questions, and still do today, however I am lucky enough to be surrounded by tech geniuses on a day-to-day basis who are always happy to answer my ‘dumb’ questions.

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DiUS mentor Ricky helping Dom build her application.

So perhaps we aren’t quite ready to be software engineers, and our boss might need to give that project to someone much more experienced than us, however after attending Rails Girls I have a much better understanding of what the broader DiUS team does. I also have a whole new appreciation for Software Engineers – I knew what they did was difficult, but I had no idea what goes into designing, prototyping and coding.

I couldn’t recommend attending a community event like Rails Girls more highly – I had a great time, learnt so much and met some amazing women (some of whom were using Rails Girls as a stepping stone to becoming front-end, back-end and even full-stack developers).

 

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The DiUS crew (L to R – Ricky, Dom, me and JC).

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