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Rails Girls Graduates Terrific Tech Talent Twosome

by Muriel Vega

Teamwork can often bring out the best in you. Sherri Mitchell and Anitha Palanisamy began training to become software developers on their own, but their skills took off over the summer while attending Rail Girls Summer of Code, a fellowship program aimed at fostering diversity in Open Source. Working together under the name “Team MitPal,” Mitchell and Palanisamy took the reins of their project and got to work for the next three months. Thanks to their previous knowledge, the pair set their expectations high and kicked off the program by working on their Open Source Event Manager (OSEM), an open-source event management software tailored for free software conferences.

Now, after graduating, Team MitPal is ready to go its separate ways and conquer code one line at a time. Check out why Mitchell and Palanisamy would be an invaluable addition to your dev team.

What program did you finish, and what was the core of your learning?

Anitha: I am currently doing an internship at Rails Girls Summer of Code, which encourages women to participate in and contribute to an open source project over the summer. I’m proud to say we are a one of the 14 teams from all over the world. As part of my internship, I am developing features using Ruby On Rails and JavaScript for the project called Open Source Event Management(OSEM) which gives organizers tools to organize software conferences. I have not only had the opportunity to  hone my hard skills like programming, but also learn soft skills to collaborate and communicate with a geographically distributed team. Before Rails Girls Summer of Code, I had completed the FullStack Web Development Program at Bloc.io learning Ruby On Rails and Angular to create web applications

Sherri: We just completed the Rails Girls Summer of Code (RGSOC), which is a global fellowship program aimed at bringing more diversity to tech. It’s a three-month internship, and women from all over the world apply to work with a teammate on an Open Source project of their choice. Each team has a supervisor from the RGSOC team, a mentor from the project team, and at least two coaches who all volunteer their time to help the teams be successful.

sherriWhat startup/tech projects have you worked on?  

Anitha: Currently, I am working with the OSEM team to develop features to better organize conferences. It helps organizers create CFPs (call for papers), communicate with attendees and speakers, and  stay on top of their events. There are also a lot of flexible scheduling features for the organizers to use. During my apprenticeship at Bloc, I developed a handful of applications, including TriPlanner and Pomodoro.

Sherri: Our team, Team MitPal, worked on a project called Open Source Event Manager (OSEM) which is an event management app tailored to free software conferences. The work was largely self-directed, and we were free to select the issues that we wanted to work on. The application is used regularly by organizations all over the world, and there was no shortage of issues for us to work on. It is written in Ruby on Rails, and the code base is pretty large. We worked on all aspects of the application including the database, back-end, and front-end. The team practices Test Driven Development using rspec, capybara, and factory girl, and writing tests quickly became a part of our development process.

The app lives on Heroku, and a core group of developers act as maintainers for the project. The codebase lives on Github, and adheres to the Github pull request workflow. It was great experience to interact with project team as we worked through our coding process. Even though the team is geographically dispersed, we felt very connected to the team.

What tech/tools are essential to you?

Anitha: Atom, Ruby on Rails, RSpec, Javascript and Git are all essential to me  as I use each  one in different stages to convert my thoughts into features.

Sherri: Jitsi and Google Hangouts are great tools for meeting and pairing remotely. Slack and Stack Overflow are two good resources for finding help when I’m stuck on something. Rspec is a must for writing tests, and I use Postman for testing API’s.

How do you stay informed & on-top of emerging trends?

Anitha: I read blogs and listen to podcasts like Ruby Rogues, Ruby Book Club  and Software Engineering Daily. I also follow some cool people on Twitter.

Sherri: Reddit and Twitter are two sources that I check often. Slack is a great place to hear about tech trends and topics, and attending meetups gives me the opportunity to see what interesting things other developers may be working on.

anithaWhat are your best technical or creative skills?

Anitha: While transforming my thought processes into code, I think from a user’s perspective. When I ask for help, I give the right context for the question.And I have the ability and grit to find solutions for a problem by putting different boxes together or doing some out of the box thinking.

Sherri: I have a business analyst background, so I am always cognizant of making sure that I am listening to what the user needs and paying attention to how a change may affect the user.

What’s next on your list to learn?

Anitha: I plan to master Vanilla Javascript and Angular.

Sherri: Right now, I am focused on improving my Javascript skills, and I also want to learn node.js.

Why the interest in the technology field?

Anitha: After graduating with a Masters in Communication and Network Engineering, I joined as a Software Engineer at Tata Consultancy Services, India. There I had an opportunity to work on both business and technical needs and learned some cool stuff. Due to personal reasons, I moved to the states. Here I found myself interested in web technology and how it solves problems and makes human life more sophisticated in dealing with tangible problems.

Sherri: You can solve so many problems with technology, and it’s just fun! It’s cool to think that I can create something to help make someone’s life a little easier, or make an app to communicate with the electronics in my home. There is always some new app to hack on, or some new thing to learn.

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

Anitha: Honestly speaking, I don’t care  about size of the  company. All I care about is a nurturing environment that values learning, humility and ethics.

Sherri: I spent the first half of my career working for larger companies, and now I would like to work for a smaller to mid-size company or maybe a larger company that has a division that is run more like a mid-size organization.

Interested in looking at Anitha’s credentials? Check out her LinkedIn and Github.

Interested in looking at Sherri’s credentials? Check out her LinkedIn

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