Switching Industries: Looking for advice/help

Hello All,

I'm currently working in the medical equipment research and development industry and I'm looking to switch industries to become a Rails developer. I've been focusing on getting to know Ruby for the past couple months and am feeling fairly comfortable with it. I want to start moving on and start on Rails now, but want some people's opinions on where to start.

How'd you all get started? Did any of you switch industries in to Rails development?

I'd be very interested in talking to someone who did switch industries successfully after studying Ruby/Rails independently. I'm a quick learner so picking up all these languages isn't a problem and just takes time, but I would really like some advice on how to reach that end goal of actually landing a job as a Rails developer (freelance work, where I should be before I START looking for freelance jobs, developing a Rails portfolio, etc.).

Seeing someone else's Rails portfolio would be a huge help!

Thanks in advance!

Check out http://joshuakemp.blogspot.com -- he used to be a *farrier*!

(I didn't switch industries myself; I've always been a dev, tho previously mostly non-web.)


Awesome! Thanks Dave. What about some books that anyone has found really helpful? Doesn't even have to be rails specifically, anything would help.



I am currently studying hard to switch careers also. I’m currently a musician (drummer) and am learning on my own. I have found a lot of resources online and many great books already. I was planning on writing a blog post about that so I’ll try to do that soon. Keep an eye out at drumusician.com

A few things you could try:

Some nice online courses:

Some books:

  • Rails 4 in Action

  • RubyonRails tutorial by Michael Hartl

  • Learn To Program by Chris Pine

And I am currently just starting to build stuff, which is actually one of the best thing to do. I am now building this site www.learnrubyonrails.org what actually will be of great help in managing learning resources.

Hope this helps.



I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. I’m an operations manager for a natural food manufacturer who through his working career discovered a love for databases (i really like to normalize data - if you have some data needs, let me know) and after a bunch of fits and starts with asp, php, etc…i finally (at 40) found ruby and ruby on rails. It’s tough going because of the amount of hours I work but it helps to know there are others out there.

I learned ruby first using various tutorials, ruby the hard way is an excellent free online resource, the pragmatic video course is always good, as was pines programming book from the pragmatic book shelf. For Rails I’m trying to get through Hartl’s tutorial again (about a year ago I got halfway through but left it off for a variety of reasons and needed to start over). I have built some ruby apps that download and parse nba information from ESPN.com (but not perfectly - nees some tweaking beyond me) but I find the biggest issue is finding something to build for a portfolio.

One person of advice is that i’d avoid the agile rails book from pragmatic - they use scaffolds - i don’t like scaffolds and feel they create more code than you need if you really know what you’re doing.

I have lots of web site ideas but most of them are ‘complex’ ideas - does anyone have any suggestion on a good ‘first project’ idea? I mean even when i get into designing a more robust blog system I get bogged down in threaded replies, and the idea of formatting text with an easy editor - my brain won’t stop thinking ahead.

If there’s any other career switchers out there like this maybe we could form our own little ‘group’ to help each other out?

IMO, the *single* most important thing to switch to becoming a developer is to understand how to structure and break down problems into solvable software components. To me, this far more important than learning any particular language, as designing solutions to problems is at the heart of software development.

That said, there aren't that many sources for learning sort of thing. Latest book I've seen that seems to do a good job is "Think Like a Programmer" by V. Anton Spraul (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13590009-think-like-a-programmer).

Lynda.com has some good courses in fundamentals of object oriented programming.

It's refreshing to know I'm not the only one out there! I'm still just at the beginning of switching paths, but I've been working my tail off. I've become addicted to ProjectEuler.com and it's helping a lot. It's great practice using the kind of mindset Tamouse was speaking of.

I think my next step is to get a domain. I'd like to host it myself with Linode so I'm devoting some time to learning linux/Ubunto/Apache. I've got some great resources now thanks to everyone and some direction. Thank you all!

I'm all for creating kindof a career switching group. It'd help to pool resources together in one spot somewhere.

I used to be a bookstore manager. I switched to an computer repair technician, now I'm mostly a programmer. A couple of resources that helped me are:


I return to these over and over again to help keep my coding clean and to learn more.

However, learning to deploy an app is a whole new set if learning. There are so many ways to do it. I have taken to setting up my own virtual private servers so I know exactly what is installed and deploying to that. Contact me off forum if you want some direction there.

Railscasts.com is an excellent resource. The one person behind railscasts took a hiatus a few months ago and has not returned just yet so he’s offering people who sign up now to pay the monthly subscription fee ($9 USD) just once and you get access to all the railscasts and there won’t be another charge until he comes back (if he does)