Grad Life: Beyond Bitmaker

Nine weeks of:

  • 10 hour coding days
  • Late night ping-pong matches
  • Insane industry networking
    ...and I’m just scratching the surface of what goes on inside the walls of Bitmaker Labs. It was a whirlwind of excitement, learning, and then getting yourself out there. After an intense week of interviews during Hiring Week, Kim, Anne and I were on a plane to Miami for our first ever RubyConf. It was our first trip to a major Ruby event in the US.

We attended the conference as scholars (a.k.a newbie Ruby Developers) and were paired up with experienced Rubyists to mentor us throughout the weekend. It was a fantastic opportunity to be introduced to the wonderful community of Ruby developers who are out there to help and spread the knowledge. We weren't the only dev bootcamp graduates at the conference, and it was really great to see other junior devs who had graduated a few months before us now working for New York or San Francisco tech startups, just like they wanted to.
The entire community was very welcoming and supportive of the junior devs attending the conference. One of the best parts of attending RubyConf was meeting and speaking with influential developers in the community such as Matz, creator of Ruby, Sandi Metz, author of "Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby", and you can't forget Michael Hartl, creator of The Hartl Tutorial, a valuable guide many of us used throughout our Bitmaker journey.

[caption id="attachment_1705" align="aligncenter" width="525"]rubyconf1 Kim, Anne and Amber with Matz, creator of Ruby at RubyConf Miami[/caption]

After the three day conference, Kim, Anne and I flew over to San Francisco where our idea of tourism differed slightly from the typical visits to the Golden Gate bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. We essentially spent every day in San Francisco accepting free meals and excessive tech swag by setting up meeting after meeting with as many awesome tech companies as we could fit into our schedule. [caption id="attachment_1706" align="aligncenter" width="525"][![GooglePlex, Mountain View California](]( GooglePlex, Mountain View California[/caption]
From the "bring your dog to work" policy offered by Google and the dry- cleaning services offered by Facebook, to the onsite gyms and free meals offered by essentially all the offices we visited (not to mention the absolutely AMAZING passionate developers we were lucky enough meet), the experience was more than enough to send me off in my post- Bitmaker adventures full of aspirations for the future. From what we experienced, the dev community is so passionate and willing to lend a helping hand to simply anyone who asks. [caption id="attachment_1707" align="aligncenter" width="525"][![Apple Headquarters, One Infinite Loop, Cupertino California](]( Apple Headquarters, One Infinite Loop, Cupertino California[/caption]

There are a few things I would like to share from my experience as a junior dev thus far. For one, regardless of how experienced you are as a developer, there is just no way to know absolutely everything there is to know in the world of software (not even the expert guru coders know everything!). As a junior dev, it's important to keep this in mind and to not get intimidated by what you don't know. *Not knowing is by no means a measure of intelligence, it is simply a measure of knowledge, which any person is capable of acquiring given time and effort. *

That being said, I think the most efficient way to learn and build your personal library of knowledge is to admit what you don't know. There were many times during RubyConf where something would come up in discussion that was completely over my head. I would politely nod and agree, avoiding the need to interrupt and admit "I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOUR ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT". But why should I be afraid to speak up and ask for explanations? Of course it's fair to not be familiar with the details of Mongo DB, there are only so many databases I can make use of within the first nine weeks of my career as a developer. I quickly realized how important it is to admit what you don't know, and just ask, ask LOTS of questions. **The more you feel comfortable with your ignorance, the quicker you will learn and the quicker you will grow to be a confident developer. **
Another thing is a lot of people ask me "Is it worth it?". Is Bitmaker Labs worth it? Is attending a conference worth it? I truly believe that any experience is worth as much as you make it to be. You have the power to control its "worthiness" and make the most out of every experience. Figure out exactly what you want to get out of going to conference X or attending dev bootcamp Y, and once this becomes clear to you, make it happen! Commit yourself with purpose, and the experience will be worth it.
As a Bitmaker Labs grad, I look forward to continuing my adventures as a developer with ThoughtWorks in January. I will be attending an intensive Java training program shortly in India, with other new hires from around the world.
Best of luck to all the current and future Bitmakers in their programming adventures, and remember, keep calm and code on!
By Amber Houle Bitmaker Labs Class of August 2013