Moar Rubyists: Boston's experiences

We've been dealing with the same problem [of a lack of Ruby programmers] for a couple of years in Boston. We've iterated through a bunch of potential solutions so I figured I'd share those with you here in case there's some lessons learned you can apply.

Dan Croak of Thoughtbot kindly shares his experiences with trying to get more Ruby programmers in Boston. It's a detailed and thoughtful post, and definitely worth a read.

I found this especially interesting:

1) Convert Java/Perl/.NET/Python developers from big companies into Rubyists

Our main effort here was a VC-sponsored workshop ... I would not classify it as successful. I think the two reasons why were:

  • the class wasn't 100% subsidized. It was still priced at $600.
  • it's difficult to find this cohort in any significant numbers. You can't contact HR at Fidelity and say, "hey, I'd like to poach 50 of your developers, can I send an email to your mailing list?"

My guess would be that if you're going to try to convert engineers at big companies, that effort will be more top-down than bottom-up. Those programmers are generally more risk-averse and unlikely to devote a lot of time and money to a skill that might possibly help them change jobs.

But, there are definitely larger companies that are trying to make the switch internally, and they're having a tough time of it. (Ten months ago I wrote about a large company that was living this pain, and from what I hear, they're still having a hard time hiring.) I really do wonder what would happen if companies like Thoughtbot or Pragmatic Studio were to sell dedicated group classes directly to companies. Of course, then you're dealing with an enterprise sales cycle. Which pretty much everyone avoids if they can.

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Tagged: ruby, rails, nyc

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