Bobbilee grew up in Minnesota playing a lot of sports, learning about photography, and going to her family’s cabin up north. After high school and a stint at Brooks Institute of Photography, she attended The University of Arizona. After college she worked as a designer at a tech startup and after being inspired by her developer friends, she quit her job to learn how to program at The Starter League. From there she landed her first junior programming job at Software for Good and became the Web Director for Girls in Tech Minneapolis. With an itch to work at a product company and escape the winter, she moved to San Diego, California to work at Intuit. Bobbilee is currently still in San Diego and when she isn’t working you’ll find her running on trails, swimming in the ocean, or at the airport.
What do you do?
I’m a Ruby on Rails developer at Intuit focused on an enterprise service called Live Community/AnswerExchange, which enables the exchanging of advice, questions, and answers between users, super users and Intuit employees for all Intuit products including but not limited to TurboTax, Quickbooks, Quicken, and Mint.com. We are a team of 25, which includes project managers, QA engineers, frontend and backend Ruby on Rails engineers.
I also work as a mentor for an online web development boot camp school called Bloc. On average I mentor 4-7 students at a time for their full stack web development course.
And lastly I’m the organizer of Rails Camp USA West Coast. Rails Camps are unplugged developer retreats typically based in beautiful remote locations. The existing Rails Camp brand was born in Australia in 2007, and has been happening twice a year there ever since. There have also been Rails Camps in the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Poland, and Denmark.
How did you go about starting Rails Camp? What have you learned through organizing an event like this?
After attending conferences across the U.S. for the past three years, I’ve met incredible people and formed great friendships as well as seen some very beautiful places. However, it’s been difficult to be fully engaged in the learning opportunities, and when all is said and done, I find myself leaving with only one or two fundamental takeaways.
Seeking more, I thought about what drives my own gratification in this environment and how I could translate it into a unique experience for others in the same boat. I went to camp every summer growing up and have fond memories of canoeing, fishing, swimming and getting to know people around a campfire. So I thought it’d be neat to mend a technology-focused group of people in a fun, relaxed outdoor setting. My goal was to create a small, unplugged retreat/conference where people come to enjoy the outdoors, learn new skills, and make connections without the typical distractions of everyday life.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I started talking with some friends who have produced conferences of their own to get some feedback on my idea. Next thing you know, RubyConf was being held in San Diego and I was randomly introduced to Philip Arndt and Amanda Wagener who run similar events (Rails Camp) in Australia. After chatting with them quite a bit and gathering a bunch of great insight, I sat on the idea for about a month to let everything marinate. Then one day I just came to the realization that I’ll never be less busy that I am now, and while it'd take a ton of work, my passion for it helped me overcome my hesitation and that's how I got started!
It’s easy to make excuses to not do things - maybe for the fear of failure or the fear of added stress - but what this project has helped me realize is that all you need is the discipline to stay organized and the patience to take things one step at a time, (oh, and a solid support network). With the support of the Ruby community and past Rails Camp organizers, I’m thrilled to host the first West Coast, Rails Camp USA retreat, coming this September. As of now, the camp is nearly sold out and multiple sponsors have stepped up to support the event (there are still a couple of areas we could use some help in) ☺!
What are your top five tools that you use on a regular basis?
Spotify, Slack, Sublime, Wunderlist, Pen and Post-Its.