How I Became a Ruby on Rails Developer!

Ruby on rails Technology

I was a musician.

It’s definitely not a secret that music industry is not exactly the most lucrative of fields. Having started my career as a freelance musician, then as a music teacher, I took odds jobs teaching students privately and occasional composing and playing at gigs. I remember struggling so much that it felt like I was unemployed.

“Do what you like the most and when you take it as your career, you won’t feel like working” – this was the mantra I heard all around while growing up. I’m sure most of these people are not in their dream jobs, yet they seem successful in what they do.

Even when I was able to do some work in the music industry, it was not the life I was looking for.

Eventually, I became bored with what I was doing and badly wanted to do something else. When I thought of what that something else would be, it became clear that I wanted a better income and a sense of usefulness.

Sense of usefulness? Really?

Well, I need a better income for sure and let’s keep that as the number one in my list of priorities.

Being useful is an entirely different topic, and I’m going to keep another blog post for it.

Four months ago, I got my first developer job at an automobile tech startup.

As you know by now, I had no relevant work experience, no tech degree, and not even any active coding experience. Yet I managed to land my dream job and today, for the first time in my life, I can say this is the life I was looking for.

Here’s how the long version of the story goes.

The Road to Becoming a Ruby on Rails Developer

Two years ago, I was in the middle of a raging quarter-life crisis, if there is one. I spent many nights regretting my decision of becoming a musician and cursed all those self-help books and motivators who constantly told me to “pursue your passion.” Or did I choose the wrong passion, I’m not sure.

A friend talked about programming and somewhere I felt it could be interesting. After I went back home, I found myself pouring over webpages. I was quick to discover that there was a faster route to getting into becoming a programmer.

I started watching hours and hours of YouTube videos on Java. I downloaded Eclipse and NetBeans and started to play around with code to see if I have a liking for it. I loved it. And continued with learning on my own.

At one point, I realized I am starting to understand basic concepts like loops and arrays. I even went ahead and built my own CLI program.

Then I switched to learning JavaScript because it appeared to be a popular language for programming. I also did a few bootcamp prep programs online. One particular bootcamp prep included Ruby, JavaScript, CSS and HTML.

Over the next few months I gorged on online platforms like Codecademy and freeCodeCamp. I was still confused and not exactly having an idea of where I wanted to go. But the coding exercises were fun and that’s what kept me going.

After I called quits on my depressing music career, I decided to escape the freezing Chicago winter by traveling to Asia. If I’m going to teach myself coding, I want to do it in a warm, cheap and non-depressing place.

While my head was buried in a laptop in a hostel in Hong Kong, I got a text from my friend Natasha.

“I’m joining a Ruby on Rails bootcamp in two weeks. Would you like to join?”

I put my thinking cap on and made some calculations. If I keep my current pace, that is, 5 hours of coding for 6 days a week, I could complete 30 hours a week. To finish Codecademy’s full course of 600 hours, I would take 5 more months. That looked like a long time. I just want to get back to Chicago and find a job.

Coding Bootcamp

Over the next 6 weeks, I learned Ruby on Rails, JavaScript and React. I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of coding I ended up doing, all lectures and assignments, and could not have asked for a better group to learn with. Learning how to learn was the most powerful skill I developed there.

Although Ruby was pretty new to me, the basics seem to be almost the same like JavaScript and Python. After an initial drag, we moved on to object-oriented programming, MVC architecture, and databases. I felt good knowing how to write basic Ruby, HTML, CSS and SQL, but then wondered how all these knowledge snippets are going to help me build an app.

I learned how to use Active Storage with AWS. My greatest happiness was when I built my own Ruby gem.

It was week 4, and we finally reached the Ruby on Rails module. Before I could realize what happened, I was looking at my Chrome browser window and reading, “Yay! You’re on Rails!! My instructor said that was my first web app.

What the heck?!

All I had done was run a few simple commands and surfed onto local host in my browser. Then I opened the app directory in the text editor and it’s clear now. Rails displayed it all so beautifully and simply.

One HTML folder, one CSS and JS folder, one controllers folder, one for models, one file for routers and one for schema mapping out the database and then the big picture of how all those pieces would fit together in an MVC framework like Rails – it was a revelation for me.

A Full-Fledged Ruby on Rails Developer

I knew at once the force is with me. With every bit of knowledge on Ruby on Rails I felt I’m closer to go full Jedi. Even now, after 10 months, I’m still on that same high. At the end of the bootcamp, after hours and hours of designing, coding, arguing, testing, database migrations and rollbacks, I had miraculously reached the “developed a full-feature web app” stage.

Let me emphasize that it’s not just the bootcamp, but my unwavering commitment and raw hard work that did the miracle. I could feel I’m going to become a Ruby on Rails developer.

Now is the time to prepare a resume, add my project link to GitHub, leave responses to Ruby on Rails vacancies and prepare for interviews. Ha, the things I did to become a Ruby on Rails developer.

I started receiving invitations to interviews a week after I have left responses. One was via Skype in Atlanta and others in the offices of large companies in Chicago. Finally a totally different company hired me, and today I live the life I always wanted to.

I still find time to record a song or two in a month.

Afterthoughts of a Ruby on Rails Developer

The thing I realized is that you will never reach a point of understanding where you scream “eureka, now I know how to program,” and ride off to sunset in slow motion. That’s just not the way it works. There is way too much information to fit in one brain. What you might have to learn is how to ask the right questions.

These days, Ruby on Rails is how I stay efficient. It’s what that lets me translate what’s going on in my brain and turn it into little pixels before I lose my train of thought. I don’t understand why more people and companies don’t start projects with Ruby on Rails regardless of the understanding what a great app looks like. It’s the ultimate starter project framework, and it can scale as far as you feel like scaling it.

I started working with the Ruby on Rails team from Spericorn pretty recently, and I would say they are a knowledgeable bunch. Even though automotive application development is a new area for them, they were quick to suggest some brilliant solutions. I’m amazed at how fast they develop a 360-degree understanding of the concept and implement Ruby on Rails expertise on to the project. In fact, I’m learning a lot from them.

Ruby on Rails is not the greatest or the simplest of frameworks. There have been many efficient and inspired ones, but Ruby on Rails could be the most mature simple framework. It’s evolving beautifully, staying right behind the burning edge of web development with great new features added along the way.

I’m Dan, and I’m a proud Ruby on Rails developer.