Attendee Spotlight – Gemma Hackney

In August 2016, CodeUp Manchester and the North West Ruby User Group teamed up to run Rails Girls in Manchester for the first time. One of the attendees, Gemma Hackney, recently told us that a year after taking part in the Rails Girls workshop, she’s about to begin her first job as a developer!  Here’s her story:

I am currently working as a survey programmer for a Market Research company, so I already had existing coding skills (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) but in a very non-technical environment. This meant that what I had been taught on the job, wasn’t necessarily the correct way of doing things and even though I could pick up new programming languages quickly on Codecademy, I had no idea how they were used in context.

I began studying for my Computing & IT degree with the Open University in my spare time to upskill, however it is very slow moving so I knew if I was to move on in my career sooner rather than later, I needed to do something else in the meantime. I came across Rails Girls on Twitter and it was exactly what I was looking for, a way to put it all into context, so I signed up right away.

Prior to this, having no experience in traditional web development I was very unsure of how my technical experience matched up, but Rails Girls really built up my confidence, as it helped me figure out where my gaps in knowledge were so I could do extra research and I came away with a better idea of how it all fit together. Since then I attended any workshops and meetups that I could physically get to without interfering with my work and studying, including the Java workshop at BarCamp last year, MaccTech, a meetup close to where I work in Macclesfield, my local CodeUp group – CodeUp Stockport and I also worked my way through Free Code Camp which helps you build up practical experience and a portfolio. Since then I have been offered my first proper development role, using a programming language I have never used before and my start date is exactly a year from when I attended the Rails Girls Workshop.

I would definitely recommend taking part in workshops and local meetups such as Rails Girls and CodeUp as they are an excellent way to boost confident, meet and learn from those who are already where you would like to be, and most of all they are lots of fun!

We’re so pleased that Gemma has shared her story with us, and it’s fantastic to show others how getting involved in local workshops and groups, along with self-motivation and drive really can help you land a role as a developer,

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