On the 7th of March 2020, which happened to be the International Women’s Day (this was intentional) Rails Girls Nairobi and Rails Girls Mombasa - which collectively forms Rails Girls Kenya - came together for a one day workshop. The main aim was to excite more ladies to join the tech community by introducing attendees to Ruby on Rails, and opening their eyes to the importance of tech communities in career development. This was done as part of our greater goal of building diversity in the Kenyan tech space, an industry that is currently male dominated. We also welcomed Gents, provided they tagged along with at least two ladies 😉
Registrations and Installations
A week before the event, we sent out setup instructions to everyone who had signed up. This was done to help as many people get ready come D-day. As expected, we had some attendees who got stuck with the setup process (mostly Windows users), but coaches helped them out as they arrived. We also had some stickers for early birds including PL's ❤️ thanks @jywarren
We kicked off with 5-min talks from each of our sponsors’ representatives. They told us what they do, the problems they are solving with their technologies, and their reasons for choosing to support Rails Girls Kenya. Their banners were also present at the event. We had an intro to Object Oriented Programming and Ruby and got the audience excited for the first breakout session.
Breakout Hands on Sessions
Our breakout sessions consisted of one coach and 4–5 attendees. The attendees were matched based on their level of programming experience. The idea behind these sessions is to “show spark, personality and keep in mind the big picture. Explain, repeat and always tie what you’re telling into a larger context.” This is one of the philosophies of the breakout sessions as defined in the Rails Girls organization guidelines, which is the umbrella organization of these two chapters(RG Nairobi and RG Mombasa). We introduced a twist to our breakout sessions this time round. Each team was required to come up with an interesting application. Teams would then present their applications, plus share what they had learnt. We had 3 coaches and 1 organizer as part of our judging panel.
“The event was well planned and well executed. We had so much fun learning as we competed. It takes working together to learn together and I think that was the best thing about Rails Girls Kenya Megacoding event” said Dan Kat one of the attendees and a long-time member
Project Presentations and Awards
After lunch break, teams had 30 mins to finalize their applications and discuss their presentations. The teams then had 4 minutes each for the presentations. Our panel of judges asked them questions to gauge their understanding of topics tackled, and to better understand the thinking behind their apps. The judges checked on each team's understanding of how their different apps worked, the different components they had included, and their efforts to improve the default scaffold design. The winning teams and exceptional individuals were presented with their awards.
We have a rule of making lightning talks as short as possible. We find this makes the audience listen to every word, the coaches are required to make their talks as short as possible, and to go straight to the point. This time we minimized it to a maximum of 3 minutes each and they made use of every second.
Catherine (far left) gave a talk on how to leverage opensource for experience and skills development. She also talked about open source paid opportunities like Rails Girls Summer of Code, Google Summer of code and Outreachy. Hannah(in the middle) told us how she became interested in tech (spoiler alert it was about a boy) and how she grew in her career to be working with top clients like Github under Andela. Paul(right) discussed “What Next”. How the attendees can make use of what they learnt, importance of tech communities in career growth and how to find help when stuck.
Here is what Winnie, a first time coach, had to say about the event: “Being a first time coach for a Ruby on Rails event, I enjoyed my time and had a great experience. We were two coaches with 5 learners and that made it easier for us to break down the project to the learners. During the breakout sessions, I loved the fact that the team I was working with was diverse and had strong listening skills. After explaining to them the project at hand, they took the initiative to come up with the approach they were to use while working collaboratively on it.
image description The learners were excited to learn and it was satisfying to see them build a basic app which equipped them with foundation knowledge on Ruby on Rails. After we had completed working on the application, we shared with the team some feedback from the breakout session and shared with them more resources on Ruby on Rails.” said Winnie Rotich. She was also kind and honest enough to offer positive criticism and concerns with the other coaches that will keep in mind during our next event :) More of our coaches
The event was an awesome collaboration these great ladies who worked tirelessly, replying to emails, brainstorming, designing the posters and booking vendors etc..I remember us being in a meeting three weeks to the event and we didn’t have any cent in our account only but the determination kept us going and they were ready to dig into our pockets to make sure the event happened.
We are grateful that for the first time the event was fully sponsored by local startups and a local university.
- Ona: helps you make better informed decisions using your data
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- Riara University provides holistic education to enable student realize their full potential and develop social and moral values which will underpin their actions through life.
- Twiga Foods links farmers and vendors to fair, trusted, modern markets. Providing a complete supply chain in Kenya for quality produce in urban areas.