Girl Meets Ruby: RubyConf 2018

I've been working with Ruby on Rails for a little over a year now and I LOVE it. I'm still amazed at how accessible the Ruby programming language is and in November 2018 I was lucky enough to attend RubyConf in LA. I was selected as an opportunity scholar, booked my flight, and landed in sunny California all within a matter of a couple months - and not even a year after I landed my first professional development job!

My RubyConf badge and shirt!

As a newbie to the coding community, I had heard of tech conferences, but had never experienced one first-hand. And, as someone who joined the software community as a front-end developer and huge javascript fan, having RubyConf be my first tech conference really intimidated me. I wasn't a Ruby expert, I had just started to dabble in it. All worries and doubts aside, I had a great time.

The RubyConf organizers did an incredible job with the Opportunity Scholarship program and I was quickly surrounded by like-minded, supportive individuals, some of whom were also experiencing their first tech conference. I was also paired with an incredibly smart mentor who answered any question I threw at him - no matter how dumb I thought the question was.

If there's one thing I took away from this experience, it's that it's okay to jump into new experiences without knowing everything ahead of time. In fact, it's so much FUN. I've been trying to get out of my own way when it comes to learning new things and my experience with RubyConf helped me to grow in ways I couldn't have predicted.

For anyone who is curious about RubyConf, tech conferences, or the opportunity scholar program at this conference, I created a list of key takeaways that I wanted to share:

  1. The Ruby Community is INCREDIBLY supportive. Matz opened up the conference with a keyonte focused on the importance of community and took us on a journey showing us just how far Ruby, as a programming language, has come.

Matz's Keynote Presentation

  1. There will be talks that you don't understand; but, there will also be talks that you will understand. I recommend going to a little bit of both. There was an incredible talk on the reduce enumerable that took my understanding of this concept and pushed it further - check out that talk here. I also learned about the concept of garbage collection and memory allocation by pushing myself to go to a talk that I knew would mostly go over my head - but hey, why not give it a shot? You're only in LA at RubyConf once, right?

Cats, The Musical! Algorithmic Song Meow-ification Talk This talk on meow-ifying songs was hilarious and gets at building an API to accomplish a goal

  1. Companies need great software developers, but software development isn't all about writing the DRY-est code in as little time as possible. That's an important skill to have, but being able to mentor others on your team and bring them forward with you is also an incredibly important skill to have. Mercedes Bernard's talk on "Empowering Early-Career Developers" taught me this and it's a talk I super recommemd. As someone who is an early-career developer it was empowering to see the resources that people can provide to help you grow in your career.
  2. All of the talks are great, but when it gets to be too much, it's 100% okay to stay out in the hallway and socialize. Or maybe take a walk with some of the people you've met at the conference. Attending a talk during each slated time slot would be tough - it takes a lot of mental stamina and for me, it was easier to soak in new information if I had a few breaks here and there. Plus, there are usually snacks around so it's a perfect time to snag some of those up!

Walking through LA

Me in a bookstore

  1. The people are great - I can't say this enough. I was nervous to attend a tech conference is a code newbie and a serious Ruby newbie, but everyone I met was supportive, encouraging, and ready to help. If you've thought about attending a tech conference at all - but RubyConf especially - I can't recommend it enough.

california shore line


Fast forward five months later, I'm still diving into Ruby and I can see a twitter feed full of supportive and friendly faces from this conference. Like Matz showed during his talk about the power of community, I say we keep growing this group of Rubyists and help make the community the strongest it can be. 💪

-A ✨