It’s Just Practice


Reiss (left) & Brandon (right)

When reflecting back on how you achieved a goal after months of effort, often resulting in hours a day of work, it’s often easy to forget how difficult that journey really was. It’s peculiar how our memory does us such an unfair disservice. This was what I was thinking about when Reiss and I  started planning our talk “Life As A Junior Developer” which we gave at NWRUG, our local Ruby meet-up.

Part of our talk discussed the steps we took to become Ruby developers. By coincidence, we both decided on a career change at roughly the same time but took two very different paths only to end up working for the same company 7 months later. Reiss took the route of an intensive boot camp course whereas as I took to using online resources and relying on members at my local Ruby meet-up.

The Journey

Reiss spent anywhere from 8 to 16 hours a day coding to complete assignments for an online boot camp which paired him with students from all over the world. Each one with the goal of becoming a software engineer. It was an all-consuming dive into the world of coding where there wasn’t time for much else.

For myself, I tried to put together a pseudo curriculum by combining online tutorials with  whatever textbook was recommended by members of my local Ruby meet-up. I dedicated most of my weekends and evenings after work to the endeavour of learning to code in Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and anything else that was necessary.

While both of us made a dedicated and considerable effort to achieve our goals, neither of us took the traditional route of obtaining a computer science degree or had a background in tech. This is an important point to reflect on as too many people often think it’s not possible to become a developer without a degree. It’s an inaccuracy that discourages many from even trying and is no doubt part of the reason there is such a shortage of developers around the world.

Despite telling hopeful developers how we landed our first role I find that we’re often greeted with uncertainty and a hint of disbelief. Aspiring developers often ask the question “What else?” as if we’ve had some previous experience in the industry we’ve failed to mention. The answer remains “Nothing”. It’s an old cliché but practice is the key and enjoying the practice helps all the more. It really can be done!

Giving Back

Reiss and I hope to help people who have chosen similar paths to becoming a developer. Our first concerted effort towards this goal will be Rails Girls in Manchester on August 13th where we’ll be helping with the basics of Rails.

For those interested in furthering their skills as a developer or looking to step into it for the first time check out:


  • A once monthly meet-up for Ruby and Rails enthusiasts in Manchester

CodeUp –

  • A once monthly meet-up with members of all experience levels. Language agnostic. Locations around the country

Tech NW –

  • A website that lists the many tech related events that happen all over the North West of England. There’s always something going on


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