This weekend, I went to Ruby For Good, a 3-day conference at George Mason University, where Rubyists from all around the world work on projects for non-profits, big and small, ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to The Growhaus, an indoor farm, marketplace and educational center. Here, I met amazing new people, expanded my skill set, and helped out an awesome non-profit.
Being new to the Ruby community, and stricken with imposter syndrome, I was always afraid to interact with people at meetups and conferences. At meetups, I felt as if I crashed into a party of best friends and people were wondering who this random guy - who's eating all their pizza - was. At conferences, I would try to make enough chitchat until the next talk started and then, at the happy hours, I would do laps around the bar, hoping I would magically run into someone I already knew until I ran out of complimentary drink tickets.
At Ruby for Good, I made real connections with people. Be it with my teammates on our U.S. Vote Foundation Project, people I met during lunch, or fellow board game enthusiasts enjoying a glass of wine. Because we lived on campus, I was able to spend even more time with everyone than if it had been a standard conference. Over 3 straight days, our conversation quickly got past the standard "Where are you from?" and "Where do you work?" questions, and turned into more meaningful dialogue about what they enjoy about programming or how they feel about making huge career change to software development.
If you want a way to give back through software development, a place to continue your programming education, or just want to meet some cool people, Ruby for Good is it. Ruby for Good values diversity and inclusivity which is represented by the attendees, and Rubyists of all skill levels are welcomed. I definitely want to attend next year and, hopefully, be a team lead.
If you would like you like to support Ruby for Good, buy a t-shirt where proceeds go to scholarships for future attendees.