« The New York Ruby Meetup

The story so far

Hi I am Ashish Dixit and I am an aspiring rubyist who has fallen in love with the the process of creating software. I was born in Kathmandu, Nepal to two of the most amazing people in the world I know: my parents. They have managed to do a solid job of raising me and have always been a driving force in my life.

I came to the United States in 2002 for an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. I had always been really interested in computers but we could not afford one until I was in high school so I did not have much experience in programming outside of few things on Basic I picked up in middle school. One of the reasons I chose to come to the United States, outside of the fact that US has the reputation of having one of the best higher education systems in the world, was that I was slowly realizing that I was starting to take things for granted. Since my cousin was working towards his undergraduate degree in United States, I knew of the challenges as well as benefits of coming halfway around the world for an education. When I look back now, while it was not easy, it made me a stronger person and taught me things that I would have not been able to learn in any classroom and it still fills me with a sense of accomplishment that I was able to pay for my own education outside of the eight thousand dollars that my dad gave me to make something of myself in the United States.

I am a strong believer in the philosophy that freedom to do what you want comes with the responsibility to face the consequences and owning that choice. However, after completing my undergraduate degree and finally landing a job that sponsored my H1-B work visa, I was starting to get comfortable. I had wanted to learn Ruby for a while because I was attracted to how it was optimized for developer happiness. However, I had always struggled with either following a book through completion or not really feeling that I internalized everything in the book to be able to build something of value when I did finish the book. I was slowly starting to realize that I was not taking ownership of the process so I decided to become more active in the user group, even if it meant it was a 3 hour round trip. That decision was what started my immersion into the Ruby Community in 2010.

The New York Ruby Meetup is a great community of people and my experience there was what gave me the confidence to give the Ruby Mendicant University(RMU) entrance exam a shot. I was stoked to find out that my submission was accepted and I patiently awaited for the October session to begin. In the meantime, I decided to take my community immersion to the next level and attend a Ruby Conference. My friend had recently moved to Austin and I knew an alum from St. Lawrence who had been of great help in guiding me traverse the "real world" since I met him a few months before graduation. I had enough travel points to get me a ticket for free which meant that my only investment was going to be the conference pass. The decision was not easy but I knew that I had to be around people who are doing cool things to get the juices flowing in me so I decided to go. It was a great experience and I even managed to convince Jim 'Big Tiger' Remsik to interview me for Hashrocket.tv (can't find the link to it though since Twitter doesn't keep tweets that far back).

It might have been the tacos combined with the really great lineup of talks and the fact that I won [a book] that I was hooked on just going to events. I had managed to hear about Ruby DCamp and signed up just in time before the event sold out. Evan Light, who organizes it every year, had convinced me that it was beginner friendly and I am glad he did. I had never been to an (un)conference before and while I had heard about code retreat, I had never attended one. So I did not know what I was getting myself into, especially since it meant 16 hours of driving from Connecticut to Virginia roundtrip but I knew I enjoyed driving and I had realized how much I enjoy being around rubyists. Since the event was free, the decision was easier but after going to one, I would not mind paying for it. It was an empowering experience because despite my lack of experience with Ruby, I was able to "lead" a talk on code reading that evolved organically with the participation from everyone.

I came back inspired, along with the rest of the New York Ruby Meetup crowd & immediately started a sister meetup focused for programmers who want to learn Ruby by hacking on problems. The structure of this was similar to code retreat way of working on different problems using Pair Programming & TDD. Given the nature of the meetup, we knew we had to find venue sponsors for weekend sessions which has proven to be a challenge but the interest in it is still there and the one meetup that we managed to find venue for was successful.

Ruby DCamp was also a great inspiration that helped me get through the challenging core skills course for RMU in October. It was not an easy class by any stretch of the imagination, especially for someone who is new to Ruby such as myself but it was a truly rewarding experience. In the three weeks that I spent in October for RMU, I learned how to structure my Ruby project, familiarized myself with design patterns and implemented one myself, and made a few open source contributions. The community around RMU is just as awesome and it was a great, after 3 weeks of intensive work for RMU during nights and weekends, I was granted the alumni status for successfully completing the core skills course. Even though I had to use up my vacation days & finance the community involvements myself (which meant I could not go to RubyConf X even though I had won a pass at the last minute because I had ran out of vacation days & strapped for cash), I am very happy with the experiences I have had and look forward to many more in the future.

So long story short, while I came into Ruby for the syntax & ease of writing clean, elegant programs, I fell in love with the community that is constantly working towards improving themselves. This focus on constantly learning and improving resonates with me and has lead me to committing myself on the long road towards becoming a better (Ruby) programmer. With such an amazing community to learn from and to get inspired by, I am certain that as long as I continue to focus on shipping and keep learning one step at a time, I will be rewarded with success. I have my parents who are a constant source of inspiration to me who are always encouraging me to seek the best in myself. It's their lesson of hard work and determination that has allowed me to come to the United States and make somewhat of a life for myself here and I have no doubt that their support coupled with the awesome community of professionals, I will be able to make my dent in the universe and be a self-made man, just like my Dad.

My RMU Experience - The Core Skills Course »
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