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Re: [NYC-rb] Looking for career guidance on bridging the gap...

From: user 9.
Sent on: Friday, August 9, 2013 12:32 AM
Hi Frank,

Like you, I decided to become a full time web developer toward the end of last year. I feel like your story resinates a lot with my experience of going down the self-teaching path initially. I got to a stage where I'd read a few ruby books, done the Hartl tutorial a couple of times and even built a simple Rails app (an Anki clone) but at the same time felt as though I couldn't sit down and start building something and really have a solid understanding of what I was doing.

There is a lot of discussion in the community of how beginner-friendly Ruby/Ruby on Rails is for beginners but I personally think it's as easy as picking up a book and starting to read. What I think is more of a roadblock is when you get 2-3 months down the track and your rate of learning starts to slow down and there is still a large gap between programming being something you do as a hobby vs being employable (i.e. being able to add value to a team from day 1 as a junior dev).

I was in a similar position to you but I eventually decided to attend to Dev Bootcamp and finished 1 week ago today. I'm not sure if a bootcamp-style program is an option for you but I would strongly recommend to at least consider it. I went in with prior experience with Rails (as a couple of others in my cohort did also) but I felt as though it was us that got the most value from the program. By stepping back and writing command line Ruby apps for 3 weeks, then using a different framework for the 3 weeks after (Sinatra), by the time it came to actually using Rails again I was a lot more comfortable with what I was doing.

I've only just started searching for a junior dev position here in New York so I guess time will tell in regards to how employers judge my technical abilities after completing Dev Bootcamp. Using the example of building a Kickstarter on your own, 10 weeks ago it probably would have taken a couple of weeks and the code would have been terrible, but now I'm confident I could build something like that in a day (even following TDD).

As long as you stay hungry to learn you'll eventually get there. I hope some of this has been helpful. If you want to reach out to me with any specific questions feel free to do so.

Andrew McGregor

On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 9:31 PM, Frank <[address removed]> wrote:
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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