your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 61: meet Ruby on Rails developer Melanie!

Happy June everyone and happy Friday! In Spotlight number 61 (!) I’m going to introduce you to Melanie. I know Melanie from Rails Girls where she’s often volunteering as coach! I think she’s pretty awesome and I’m very happy to share her story with you. Enjoy reading!
Name: Melanie Keatley
 Job: Ruby on Rails developer at Space Babies Amsterdam
 Favorite website, app or gadget: I love Trello! I use it privately and work work. A lot. I make boards for events, & holidays.
 Favorite book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Seriously. I love that book. I have it in Dutch, English, French and Japanese. I need to get it in more languages.
 Twitter: @Keatley
 Site: (I don’t have a personal site. I should build one, I’ve just never gotten round to it).


What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I was feeling like an old person who doesn’t know how to set the timer on the VCR anymore. All my stuff was “in the cloud”, my money, memories, friends, files, but I had no idea how any of it worked. I thought I would just do a small introductory course on building websites and leave it at that. Then I followed the RailsGirls one day workshop in 2013 and I was hooked. At the same time I started getting increasingly frustrated with my work in communications, so that also pushed me to branch out and start over in a different field.


What does your working day look like?
I get in the office in the morning, and work on different projects. I’m currently giving most of my time to a client that has an IOT/Health platform for developers. Our office is in A-lab in Amsterdam, a pretty cool place with lot’s of creative companies. We have lunch, we often cook up our own toasties and then more coding. A lot of people seem to be more productive in the mornings, but I’m different for some reason. After lunch is when I really get in the code-zone. Hmmm. Maybe I just need to have a bigger breakfast. Anyway, I leave at 5 sharp! I need to pick up my one-year-old son from daycare. Then I get home and if I’m lucky my husband has prepped a meal that I just need to warm up. I’m a terrible cook, so that is just a better option for everyone at home.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
One of the first projects I worked on, where I felt I did most of it by myself was a photo rating app. It was a website where companies could upload a bunch of photos and send them to their ambassadors to have them rated before using them on social media. I really liked the idea and had a lot of fun building it. Because it was relatively simple, the site was actually “done” at the end of the line and I felt really satisfied with my work. It was one of those things that you could show your mom.


Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
My colleague Stephanie is definitely my inspiration. She is always trying to improve her work, herself and improve the development field for other people. She’s one of the hardest workers I know and really fun to work with. When I grow up, I want to be her.
Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
The fact that I get paid to muck around on the computer. It’s still weird to me.


Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
No computer science degree, I joined the field later in life. I’m pretty sure I miss a foundation of general computer knowledge, but I don’t really let it get in my way. In web development there are new technologies being used everyday, and when I start using them I know just as much as someone else who is starting out with that technology but who does have an actual degree. When I start at zero, I am at the same level as anyone who is starting at zero. I have a degree in journalism, so I am really good at Googling and finding out how things work.


What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Just jump in and don’t listen too much to people who are trying to save you from making their mistakes. Everyone has their own set of mistakes to make and learn from.


Extra question from Amy: How do you deal with conflict?
I’m not gonna lie, I hate conflict. But I have learned that sometimes it’s just best to deal with problems head on. Often, it wasn’t such a big deal as I had made it in my head anyway.