Kickstart Your Development Career

On the 16th of March a small group of aspiring developers came together at the GoCardless offices in London for an evening event on how to Kickstart Your Development Career. The workshop, run by Najaf Ali, was a three hour long presentation filled with practical knowledge and helpful tips on how to get your first job in web development.

Kickstart your dev career

The workshop consisted of three 30 minute sessions, each elaborating on a critical part of starting a career in web development.

In part one, Ali explained how to build tech skills and what to learn as an aspiring developer. The main takeaway from this section was to focus on one specific language (be it Ruby or Python or Javascript) or web development topic. Learning through printed books is still one of the best ways to gain strong knowledge of a language. Another key learning point was not to be put off by the less visually welcoming stuff: it is important to learn how to use the command line, to understand how Git works, and to get familiar with concepts like control structures, algorithms and relational databases such as MySQL. These skills will become increasingly important later on in your career. As a way of measuring skills, Ali suggested building lots of small projects, quantity over quality being key. Seeing what you can build from scratch without checking the internet for reference is also a good way to understand how much you actually know.

In part two Ali gave us tips on how to build influence and create a network in the tech industry. Going to meet ups and conferences is an excellent way to meet new people. Even better is talking at these events as these appearances can position you as an expert on a certain topic. Another way to build influence is to write a blog. Don’t be afraid of coming off as an amateur - even the most basic piece of information can be useful to someone just getting into development. Another important point from this section was to have a couple of your best projects - around 2 to 3 - online and in a state where you can show them off to prospective employers at a moment’s notice. And finally, on your personal website clearly state that you are available for work if that is the case.

Part three was concerned with the actual process of getting a job. Once again, we received a lot of useful tips from how to find job openings (it’s always best if they come to you) to what to put on your CV. The most important lesson from this section was to have a plan: know what type of company you want to work for and target them specifically. Be confident in your skills and in your worth. Finally, be interested in the company and job you are applying for - genuine enthusiasm for the position and the company goes a long way.

All in all it was a very informative and helpful evening for the newbie programmers in attendance. If you are an aspiring developer keen on getting your first job in the industry or if you are one of the attendees and want to revisit the content of the workshop you can get the Kickstart Your Developer Career book by signing up to this mailing list.

Bath Ruby Conference 2015

If you happened to be in Bath last Friday, 13th of March, you would have seen a host of Ruby developers from the UK and beyond descend upon the ancient city for the first ever Bath Ruby Conference held at the Assembly Halls (chandeliers and all!). Such a fantastic event could not be missed, so went along for a full day of talks, learning and socialising.

Bath Ruby Conference 2015

codebar organisers at Bath Ruby

Let me tell you, we had an amazing time! We met some of our coding heroes, most notably Sandi Metz, Katrina Owens, Ben Orenstein and Saron Yitbarek (yes, she is equally as nice in real life as she is on the CodeNewbies podcasts). We talked to amazing developers (both novice and more experienced), listened to some truly inspiring talks and had the opportunity to introduce Codebar on stage to the 500 strong crowd. We enjoyed an all together lovely, thought provoking day in the beautiful city of Bath.

No conference would be what it is without and excellent lineup of speakers (commendably 4/6 speakers were female) and topics, some of the highlights for us included:

Saron Yitbarek (@saronyitbarek) spoke about the importance of supporting each other as you learn to code and develop as a novice programmer, because for those who don’t get started at university or a bootcamp, it can be difficult to stay motivated when learning independently. In addition, she emphasized the importance of reading codebases written by other people – whether or not that code is “good” code – as one of the fastest ways to grow as a developer.

Katrina Owen (@kytrinx), the founder of, gave a talk on legacy code and the choices developers face on a daily basis: whether what you are contributing is actually moving the project forward or holding it back. She offered an explanation using Game Theory as to why developers (even good developers) will occasionally write bad code, which was extremely interesting, and perhaps a little bit too true for any developer in the audience who had worked with legacy code!

Tom Stuart’s (@tomstuart) talk wove many disparate concepts together into a talk about mathematical abstraction in software development. Using disarmingly simple slides, he explained how a concept as seemingly straightforward as bartering apples and bananas can be abstracted and applied to writing complex pieces of code. However, he emphasized that not all abstraction is good – abstraction is an effective means to an end when it is honest and minimal.

And finally Sandi Metz’s (@sandimetz) talk on nothing, and how sometimes nothing IS something. Her presentation featured an enormous diversity of Ruby topics, from metaprogramming to polymorphism to slightly off beat concepts like monkey-patching the Nil class. Although geared towards more advanced programmers, she ensured that new programmers in the room could access her insights on object-oriented Ruby.

We would like to thank the Bath Ruby organisers for putting together such an excellent event and for letting us spread the Codebar word. They did an excellent job - creating a friendly, inclusive, diverse and inspiring event. We’ll definitely be back next year for another round of amazing talks and general merriment.

Trans*Code London

We are happy to announce our support for the Trans*Code hackday that will take place in London in March.


Trans*Code is a beginner friendly hack event focused on bringing together trans, non-binary, allies, coders, designers and visionaries and drawing attention to transgender issues and opportunities.

The event will kick off with an install-fest and a networking social on Friday, the 27th of March, followed by the main workshop and hackday on Saturday the 28th.

“As technology offers growing opportunities, being sure these opportunities are equally accessible to traditionally marginalised groups grows ever more important. Participants can come from any background, working together to create prototypes around the themes of transgender issues and access to technology.” - Naomi Ceder, organiser

If you have an idea, can code or design, want to learn, or just improve the situation of the trans and non­binary communities through technology sign up as a participant or volunteer to mentor.

To keep up-to-date with Trans*Code events, follow @trans_code on twitter and subscribe to the event hashtag.