This month we spoke with Thais Camilo, a Brazilian born Rubyist who came highly recommended by Vzmind. Thais lives in Chile where she works as a part of the Hashrocket team. When she's not pair programming, Thais is biking, running, or practicing Krav Maga.
You grew up in Brazil and studied Computer Science at a university in São Paulo. When were you first exposed to computers and what made you want to study computer science?
_ My first exposure to computers was in school as a teenager. We had computer classes where we shared a computer with other children to learn LOGO. I had no idea I was learning a computer programming language, it was like drawing houses and polygons in a computer, just that. Until I was 16 years old I intended to study Psychology. Then one day I went to a Computer Science workshop and immediately realized psychology wasn't the right choice._ I started programming Perl and hacking slackware. I worked with Perl, PHP a little bit of C, Cold Fusion and Python. I started to learn Ruby on Rails in 2009 and I never looked back.
What were you initial impressions of Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails changed how I program. I've never seen so many things that you learn at university applied day-to-day such as design patterns, refactoring, code review, pair programming, TDD, BDD, Pomodoro, etc. It's difficult to someone new to this "Ruby world" to understand this. _ _
Can you talk a bit about the “Ruby world” and your experience with the Ruby community?
The Ruby community is really good. The community produces a lot of nice content and code, has many plugins and gems, other good initiatives like RailsBridge, podcasts, screencasts, RailsRumble and others. Some discussion groups are also really inclusive, or at least they try to be.
You lived in Brazil until 2009. What is the tech scene like there?
When I left Brazil the major companies were focusing on Java. Despite the huge Ruby on Rails community there, it's still easier to find a job as a Java developer. Lately I've seen lots of news about Ruby/Rails conferences in Brazil and South America. This is positive and I hope it will continue to grow.
Why did you leave Brazil for Chile?
I moved to Chile to work at Hashrocket in 2009. When I was living in São Paulo I saw Obie's tweet about Hashrocket opening a new office in Chile and looking for brilliant developers to work there. I thought, "I am not a brilliant Ruby developer yet, but I could become one if I work with brilliant people." I sent my resume, interviewed at Hashrocket, and here I am.
You are not a native English speaker. Do you have advice for people facing a similar situation where language can be a challenge to learning as a programmer?
Don't be shy to try. If hadn't tried to speak English I would not be talking to you now. I would not be working at Hashrocket with such amazing developers.
It is difficult to try to speak in a different language. It's not easy to express yourself. It's tiring to read technical books in English. If you want to keep in sync with what's going on you must read in English or wait for the book to published in your language. The same thing happens for blog posts and big conferences.
Do not hide behind the language barrier. There are plenty of developers who will help you, even if your English is not perfect. In the end what matters is what you know about your work, not how well you speak English.
Is there anything people can do to help with the language barrier frustrations?
I've been working several months at Hashrocket doing pair programming. My English is not perfect but I've never heard from my co-workers any negative thoughts about it. Sometimes it takes time for me to explain myself, or it's difficult to understand me at first, but it never became a barrier to working together. Language is just one tool to communicate. If both side are open to work around it, everything will work fine. Avoiding prejudice on both sides is the key.
Many thanks to Thais for speaking candidly with us. True to Vzmind's recommendation, we agree Thais deserves recognition, "first because she's a good programmer, second because she's friendly and helpful, and third because the Brazil tech scene for women needs better promotion".
Do you know a great lady in tech that motivates you and contributes to the community? Drop a line to let us know and we'll feature her in a future post.