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Turning summertime into Summer of Code

This summer, I spent a wonderful 2 months at Monterail. I’ve been asked to share my overall impression about my time spent there working on an open source project. It was an experience that changed how I view my skills. It helped me believe that I can, so I would like to share with you about how I felt and how I benefited from this experience more than what I did.

I’ve always been keen on new technologies. It still may not be the most popular hobby amongst women, yet surprisingly, what encouraged me to move forward in this field was the female IT community. The Wrocław Rails Girls workshop in May 2014 started my adventure. I have attended multiple workshops since then, slowly realizing that I’m becoming a bit too advanced to listen to what a while loop is again and again. I loved the girly atmosphere of all these meetings – cupcakes, balloons and all that stuff. It may sound cheesy at first, but for me, it’s a really cute and relevant way to show all the attendees that this is a field in which they should feel good as well as show off the thing that they should really try doing – programming. But I knew that I couldn’t just go to eat cupcakes – what I wanted to do was develop my programming skills.

The Ruby community was love at the first sight for me - no Pythonists or any other language-oriented meetup has the same vibe. And trust me, I’ve been at a few.

That was the time when I found out about Rails Girls Summer of Code. I immediately found a friend willing to team up with me, but finding coaches or a coaching company seemed to be the hardest part of the application process. I didn’t really know any Ruby coders well enough to ask them for help. But I knew we couldn’t let go, so after a while of brainstorming our not-so-infinite possibilities, I had a light-bulb moment: it’s Rails Girls Summer of Code after all. I decided to turn to Monterail, as they supported Rails Girls event in which I partook. After short consideration and a few emails exchanged between me and the Employee Satisfaction Manager, Lidia, they decided to welcome our team with open arms.

As it sometimes happens in life, not everything went as smooth as I wanted it to. In fact, nothing went smoothly and I felt like everything was on fire. We didn’t get selected as one of 16 RGSoC teams, which meant no stipend and no plans for summer vacation at all. Although my friend had a backup plan to spend her holidays abroad (and so she did), I was so determined to get accepted to the program, I didn’t even think of any other options. I guess you can imagine my disappointment at the moment when I realized the bad news.

I wrote Lidia an email explaining the situation and saying thank you for the company’s willingness to help us. Was I ever surprised by her response! I was told that despite all the adversities, I could still come to Monterail’s office and work on an open source project of my choice.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about the idea of coming to Monterail’s office alone. We were supposed to work as a team, so how would I be able to undertake both front end tasks as well as back end ones? As it later turned out, it was a real when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade situation. The only difference was that I wasn’t the one to decide to make it – I was encouraged to do so. But in my personal opinion, I made nearly the best I could out of it.

I’ve experienced multiple ‘awesomenesses’ during this holiday. Open source awesomeness, Ruby community awesomeness, Rails Girls awesomeness, the feeling of getting your first pull request ever merged to the main branch (like a developer’s rite of passage!) awesomeness, and, most of all, Monterail People awesomeness. Monterail’s office really feels like home (sometimes even better, when you don’t have AC at home and it’s asphalt-melting hot outside). The best part of my summer was that even though it wasn’t a real job, I woke up early in the morning eager to learn new things and get new experiences; I spent about 8 hours in the office every day that I was there. Frankly, I can’t think of any better way to spend my summer than turning it into a Summer of Code!

What’s next? Now I’m pretty sure that I will still attend programming workshops for girls – but no longer as a student: I want to become a mentor and contribute to this awesome community and help more girls and women find their true passion. I’m far away from being an IT-terrorist: I’m totally okay with the fact that others may have their own hobbies. But based on my own experience, I know there are lots of girls eager to join the IT world, yet are afraid of doing so. At the end of the day, I used to be one of them!

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