Look, proving you’re a solid developer isn’t easy when you don’t have professional experience on your resume. Many companies want you to PROVE it before they even talk to you, and then you have to be a culture fit too! This means you’ve got to have a solid resume where you’ve worked for all the right companies, all the buzz words that this specific company wants (including more years of Rails experience than Rails has even been around), and amazing references who you’ve paid to say nice things about you. Amiright?
There is another way: Open source.
Step 1: Go to github right now.
Step 2: Sign up. Learn how to use it.
Step 3: Check out the open Rails issues list and find things you can do. Submit pull requests to repos that resonate with you, execute. Offer your changes back to the main repo.
Yes, this will take you some time. You can prove yourself to be a valuable coder and if you happen to solve the one problem that a company or a team is waiting for, you are now their freaking hero. Working a couple hours a week on problems other people are having could help improve their working lives, helps to prove your skills, allows you to get better at the thing you love, and could help you get a job that changes your life forever. Seems worth it.
If you spend enough time with a repo and close enough tickets, your name shows up and people start to take notice. Steve Klabnik went from pull requests to a core committer in ~6 months.
José Valim is the #4 all time contributor to Rails. José got his start by eliminating certain less than helpful warning messages that scrolled by in his logs while working on his early rails apps – fast forward a few months and he’s a member of the Rails core team. Not too long after, he authored Crafting Rails Applications: Expert Practices for Everyday Rails Development.
Want to get on the radar of a specific company? Track down their employee’s github profiles (go to linked in, search by company, find the devs, look them up on github – it’s easy and the very basics of recruiting…). Now you are a stalker who knows exactly what they are working on and which libraries, gems, or frameworks that company is using. Go fix some stuff. Go add some stuff. Go do cool things with this code on a side project. Then apply, but make sure you have links to all that cool shit you did on your resume and blog and linkedin profile.
The next logical question you should ask is, “Why the hell is a recruiter telling me to do this? Recruiters only care if they can make money off my sweet sweet skillz.” That’s true, we do make money if we help you get a job. We however are focused on making the community of developers a better place. We actually give a shit whether there are enough developers in the world to satisfy the demand, whether we place them or not. We help people who we like, because they are awesome people, whether we get paid or not. So, take our advice or leave it just because it’s on a recruiter’s website – but you should know that this information came directly from one of our clients.
This client won’t even talk to you unless you have a github repo. This is not because they’re picky, it’s because giving back to open source is in their blood. It’s a major part of their hiring process to see your code and find out what you care about and what you have actually done. If you’re not a good match to their philosophy, then they don’t want you. They are very patient, very smart, and doing VERY well in their industry.
We’re here to help. Yes, even if we don’t place you. Test us out, ask a question and see what sort of response you get. I’m buying drinks if you find a sales pitch or a pushy recruiter among us.