June 10, 2014
This past Saturday, I participated as a mentor at the RailsBridge event here in Minneapolis. The event is designed to help increase the diversity in technology and provides opportunities for people to learn Ruby on Rails or to up their Rails game. Rosie Hoyem of the Minneapolis Population Center organized and facilitated the entire event with 30+ students and 20+ volunteer mentors throughout the day. Attendees ranged from a fourth grader to women who are currently designers and want to learn more back-end technologies to women who have had multiple careers and were looking to up their game in a different way.
We split the group into three tracks - a beginner, slower-paced intro to Rails, a slightly faster-paced intro to Rails, and an intermediate group. With an installfest the night before, each student was able to set up their own laptop with Ruby, Rails, git, Heroku, build a basic Rails app, commit it to version control, and push it to a live site deployed on Heroku. Mentors were standing by to help present the material, explain the what, why, and how behind it all, and to help remove roadblocks along the way.
Learning the backgrounds these women were coming from, why they were interested in programming, and how they heard about RailsBridge MN was fascinating. It was exciting to watch the women realize they had control over what they were building, how they were making the computer do something specific, and seeing their creation come to life. This is precisely what keeps me going in this industry, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to help others experience this for themselves.