Rails Girls Berlin “Wall of Fame”
This a series of interviews with women, who have made their way into coding.
Check out their stories, get inspired!
People can very easily kill your motivations but the truth is: it’s never too late, you are never too old to learn something new, do something completely different or something you thought is out of your league. Chances are high it’s within range!
Job: Graphic Designer
Hi Rebecca, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your educational background.
I am a graphic designer from Berlin. I draw and illustrate in my free time and like to play video games. I am not a very logic driven person nor am I good at math. I almost failed the computer science class in 9th grade and in general dislike complicated things or puzzles because I am not good at them. I like to do abstract art but am bad in figuring out abstract systems, or so I thought. Programming for this reason never appeared to be something I could or should ever do. At the company I was working back then, I would often join the developers on their smoking break. Sometimes they would talk about their job. I asked out of curiosity if programming was something I still could learn. They laughed! They said I would need to study computer science and it would take years to become any good at programming. I nodded and dropped the subject.
How did you get to know about Rails Girls Berlin?
I saw an article about Fiona who wrote blog posts about her experiences with learning programming and it was totally inspiring.
Not much later Rails Girls was mentioned in an Spiegel online article offering free workshops to women wanting to learn how to program, for absolute beginners, like me. I had to take action, no?
Why did you join the workshop and what was your impression of it afterwards?
I joined to invade that mystic world that seemed (for said reasons) so unreachable before. Knowing that I could simply attend not knowing anything ( just like anyone else) made me feel confident.
The workshop itself was great and intense. The organizers and coaches were extremely welcoming and I was immediately hooked.
Had you any previous programming experiences before?
Just this computer science class in 9th grade. I didn’t remember anything from that time except that the teacher was terrible.
How did you continue learning?
In a previous Rails Girls workshop a study group (later known as the „RubyMonstas„) had been formed to continue learning Ruby on Rails. I immediately asked if I could join their group. Et voilà.
What was the biggest obstacle during your learning process?
To find that error or the fix at times made me *headdesk* so hard I can’t even. But there is nothing more rewarding than having finally fixed something that was broken, even if it takes an hour or a whole weekend. It’s a real thrill.
Unfortunately something else breaks right away of course. 😉 With a full time job it can be hard to stay focused and continue learning regularly, also if you have tons of other passions/hobbies. I think learning on a regular basis is really important. Like with anything else you want to excel at.
You are member of the Rubymonstas, a Rails Girls Berlin Project Group.
Can you tell us what a project group is and how it works?
I am a member from the very beginning and we just celebrated RubyMonstas 4th anniversary! We started out in a small group guided by 2 main coaches (Sven and Konstantin). We would meet and study every Monday at the former Traivs-CI office. We usually got homework assigned that we could work on during the week.
Today we are even better organized and have up to 3-4 groups of different learning levels meeting every Monday. Former learners are now coaching themselves, we have a self-written rails guides up on our website and from what we have learned we built apps that we feel the community really needs. For example „Speakerinnen„. Also our newest app „Diversity Tickets“ which was built for the Travis Foundation.
I think we are a pretty stable and good organized RailsGirls project group. New beginners are joining us after ever new RailsGirls workshop. Big thanks at this point to all the coaches who have been helping out (new and old) on a voluntary basis thru all this time and special thanks to Sven Fuchs from Travis-CI, who has been one of our first coaches and is our main supporter until today.
There are other projects groups of course, the RubyCorns for example, they built an app for learners and coaches to find/form new project groups: rorganize.it. But it would be great to see way more project groups. We simply don’t have enough.
Tell us a bit about your experiences with learning in a project group.
I am more a loner so at first I was a bit skeptical whether or not I should join a group. However project groups can be very effective, way more than just learning on your own. The Rails community is also wonderful so it makes sense to team up, learn and built together. I am glad I went for it.
What do you like most about learning in a project group?
That you can achieve so much more together. Also having coaches, is a blessing. You can google a lot but it´s never as valuable as having someone next to you who can help directly. Also, people bringt food and snacks to the meetings. Can’t complain about that.
What is your advice to women who want to learn coding?
Don’t give up on something just because people tell you so. Personally I don’t want to become a Rails developer. That has never been my intention. I am currently more interested in Front-end learnings anyway (which luckily I can also do at RubyMonstas.) However it’s important to know that I could, if I wanted to and that YOU can, if you wanted to become a Rails developer/any developer eventually.
People can very easily kill your motivations but the truth is: it’s never too late, you are never too old to learn something knew, do something completely different or something you thought is out of your league. Chances are high it’s within range! There are organizations like Rails Girls who help women to become aware of that + encourage and support them in their goals.
Your extra question: Is there a special technique you are using to get inspired?
When it comes to programming: Joining a project group keeps me being inspired and motivated.
In general: Just keep eyes and ears open for things that trigger your motivation. Stay curious. Remember why you liked something.