What was your first professional Ruby/Rails programming job?

There was a discussion about junior developer positions on the NYC.rb mailing list this weekend.

Basically, people were complaining that there aren’t any junior developer jobs out there, yet, Bootcamps are claiming “85-90% of their graduates get a job within 90 days after graduation”.

The junior developer roles that are available require 3-5 years of professional programming experience and the things you need to know before you’re considered for a phone interview can’t be realistically learned in 3-6 months.

Moreover, the best way to learn programming is get a real job, where you’re writing real production code 40+ hours a week. Or build your own products that solves problems you have.

I think part of the problem is some of these graduates have no CS degrees, but are applying to software companies/startups that are building very complex systems. These companies have no choice, but to reject them because they can’t devote resources to teaching them.

For those of you who invented the internet, did you start working for software companies right away and writing production code? Or were you in a more peripheral role?

And for those of you who learned programming in the last 5 years, and Ruby/Rails as your first programming language, what kind of tasks were you doing at your first jobs?


Great topic Raymond.

Catch 22 isn’t it - people want ‘experienced’ programmers yet you can only get experience while in a job.

Personally I have never had a ‘programming job’ as such as I work for my own company, however, there are things I think you can do:

  • Get yourself noticed (write blog posts, do something in open source, etc)
  • Try to get work experience at ‘top’ companies even if for little or no pay.
  • Keep improving your skills, keep learning (this will help both of the above!)

I actually got offered a job at a top Rails shop not long after starting to learn Ruby and Rails - they said they really liked my enthusiasm and wanted me to get involved on some level even if I wouldn’t consider relocating to the US. I guess they liked the blog posts I was writing! Having said that - this was when there was a shortage of good Ruby devs so I probably just got lucky, haha!

But I think my advice stands - get yourself noticed. Nobody can ignore something extraordinary - and you are capable of doing that just as much as anyone else :+1:

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I was in this same situation a few months ago. I studied Accounting and Finance in college, and graduated this May. To pay for university I was building websites on the side. I picked up Ruby and Rails less than a year ago with the intention of getting hired at a rails shop. Fortunately for me a friend of mine got me an interview and vouched for me at the startup I currently work for. I have since been reading everything I can get my hands on for Ruby. The exposure I get on the job is great, my current title is “Solutions Engineer”, so I dont program 40 hours a week because I work on a lot of Business Intelligence and consulting projects for clients but I have learned so much in terms of Ruby and Rails already.

I guess my advice would be fake it til you make it. Build a lot of demo projects with Rails and build up a portfolio. Some startups will invest in you if you show them you are a quick learner and show the enthusiasm to put in the long hours. I have been the last person to leave my office every day because I want to show them I am willing to put the time in.

Sorry for the long winded response and for all of the grammatical errors (haha). I hope this helps.


I got my first job as Ruby on Rails developer. Lucky me!
It was a start up company that had 1 senior dev & 1 junior dev (from PHP).
Then the idea fails after a year. But luckily again there is another project he had in mine.
And I become the only dev for a year! So I got to learn much things myself.

I am still on that job now, and even sometimes interviewing technical candidates.

I have worked with a few interns. The “good” interns (for me) have the following “nature”:

  • Some to none Rails experience and other things
    (wait don’t throw banana to me yet)
  • Self-knowledge of their lack of Rails experience and other things
  • Eager to learn, by asking
  • Willing to learn the concept/reason
    (i.e. why something should be done in certain way, not just how to do it)
  • Willing to write comment
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Does anyone else care to tell me about their first professional Ruby/Rails programming job? And any specific advice for people looking for jobs today.

Mine was 8 or 9 years ago. I responded to a posting on the JRuby mailing. They were deploying on JRuby, which was still pretty young at the time and wanted someone with Java chops, too. I had almost ten years of Java experience by then, and had contributed to JRuby and ActiveRecord-JDBC, so I was a good candidate for them :smile:

My first programming job of any sort was also a support job where they were looking for someone to do double duty. It was crap, but it got my foot in the door. It shouldn’t have to be that way though, but sometimes it is… :frowning:


Great response. From my perspective I feel that working for a longer time or leave at the last will not impress our boss so avoid leaving late always…

I’m not saying working extra isn’t necessary, I try to convey that work when it require and maintain work life balanced. :wink:

Opinions are my own.

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I don’t believe having a job is a good idea for the following reasons.

  1. Job security is a lie (the industrial age has passed)
  2. You work for 50% money (taxes taken out before you leverage it, then more taxes)
  3. You’re building some one elses success rather than your own (hence the title “job”)
  4. You don’t build your reputation, the company does (you can’t always entrust your reputation in other people hands)
  5. Increases in pay doesn’t usually out-perform inflation (debt based currencies lose value over time) – I believe this Ruby/Rails niche is an exception to this rule

Before the industrial age people had trades and skills and everyone was, for the most part, their own salesman. Whether you fear it or not it is a very important life skill. According to research done by Dale Carnegie “people skills” determine the highest paying jobs.

I feel that the majority of Ruby/Rails developers that get hired are only hired for a fraction of their worth. This makes them a good value for the company because the company makes the difference in profits. Furthermore, companies pay heavy fees to the government. So not only is your pay decreased for the companies sake, but for the governments sake as well. When the company can no longer profit by paying you that’s when the company needs to be rid of you. So company expenses and losses are a big determiner in the “job security” (the lie) you have.

As for me I’ve done freelance work in Ruby with automation. And I’m part owner in a Rails startup I’ve been working on for most of a year now.


My friend and I have our own company. We have products (mainly one product) and then also consult. It would be hard to go back and work for someone else, and I could never work for a big company.


You know what? I’ve decided I really like you!

Not that I disliked you before but you seem to echo my sentiments in every post you make :thumbsup: