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Looking for career guidance on bridging the gap...

From: Frank
Sent on: Thursday, August 8, 2013 7:29 PM
Hello Ladies and Gents,

My name is Frank. I'm an aspiring Ruby developer, and I would sincerely appreciate some career guidance. Thank you so very much in advance! I'm proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

Some background: Earlier this year I decided to focus on becoming a full-time web developer. I did some self-teaching, and then tried to get an internship at a dev shop in NYC. I was asked by their lead dev if I could build Kickstarter on my own. "Probably not right now, no." was my honest response (looking back, maybe it should've been "With enough time, sure.").

So, I took a Rails class with Avi Flombaum (who's wonderful btw). I kept on with the self-teaching, and then contacted Obie Fernandez. Long story short, I convinced him to let me apprentice with him while he was in NYC for TechStars. That was a wonderful experience that wrapped up at the end of June.

I now feel stuck though as far as my optimal next step. I'm still fairly green and need to keep working on my Ruby/TDD/Agile skill set, but I'm tired of building my skills in isolation. I want to be a part of a team with some sort of mentorship in place. 

I applied to a shop well known for its pairing and Agile development practices, knowing full well I was probably way under-qualified. Surprisingly, I got an interview. Not surprisingly, I didn't make it past the first round. Here was the feedback that I got:

"Unfortunately, <name removed> felt that, on a technical level, it wasn't quite a good enough match to merit going forward at this time. However, he asked me to strongly encourage you to re-apply in another year or so, if you're still interested and available. He really loved your enthusiasm, and said that, with some more TDD and experience coding in Ruby, you could be a great fit for us.

My Questions:

What are some potential ways for me to bridge this rather large gap? Should I just find whatever job I can, and keep cranking in my spare time until I'm a solid junior dev, or do you think there are opportunities out there for someone who's hungry to learn, hungry to work, and hungry to do things the right way? If the latter, who are some companies you think I should contact?

Also, am I expecting too much in my desire to be a junior guy on a team where mentorship, pairing, Agile, and TDD are business as usual? Or should I expect to take whatever job I can get that's related to programming, and keep patiently honing my craft on my own?

Thank you again!


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