Leveling Up with Railsbridge

by Brittany Martin

One of the benefits of San Francisco is the wonderful people that volunteer to organize Railsbridge workshops. What's Railsbridge? Glad you asked! RailsBridge workshops are a free and fun way to get started or level up with Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. The events focus on increasing diversity in tech (yay diversity in tech), so that people of all backgrounds can feel welcome and excited about joining the tech industry. The curriculum and the platform (aka Bridgetroll) are all open sourced. The workshops are global and they frequently happen in the Bay Area. 

I got involved in Railsbridge last fall when I offered to TA at the inaugural Railsbridge in Oakland. I arrived at Installfest and immediately got to work on getting Rails to work on Windows. The creators of RailsInstaller will forever have my respect since it can be a challenge. 

     The intermediate green group: Railsbridge Oakland

     The intermediate green group: Railsbridge Oakland

Railsbridge structures the program by having students select themselves into 5 different groups. If at any time the student feels the program is going too quick or slow, they can move themselves to another group. A teacher leads the group curriculum with a handful of TAs to answer individual questions. It's incredibly helpful when everyone has their local environment setup ready by attending Installfest the night before. I enjoyed TA'ing at the the Oakland edition so much that I jumped for the chance to teach at the last San Francisco Railsbridge (led by my fellow Bloc.io grad, Anna Neyzberg). 

As a junior developer, I was nervous about TA'ing the intermediate group (Oakland) and teaching the beginner group (San Francisco). It turns out that I had nothing to worry about since these students really wanted to be there and asked incredibly insightful questions. But what amazes me the most, is how much I learned during Railsbridge. I didn’t even realize I’m actually learning from it, because I was focused on everyone successfully passing the curriculum, but after the event, I realized I had a stronger grasp on many technical concepts that I use everyday (example: assets, databases). The concern of “are these students going to like me as a teacher?” was slowly replaced by “what can I learn when someone asks me a question?”.

I'm excited to be signed up as a student for San Francisco's first Javascript Railsbridge. Since I started my experience as a TA, it will be fun to see the event from the other side. If you happen to be in San Francisco in February, come by RailsBridge SF Plan/Code/Write Night to join the SF leadership team to do some planning, some coding, or some writing for RailsBridge. I'll be there!

Thanks to all of the creators and contributors of Railsbridge! I  highly recommend signing up as a student, volunteering, or starting a new chapter