Giving Back by Donating My Time

Last week I organized my first RailsBridge for Womens' event at Yammer. One of the first tech events I attended when I moved to the Bay Area almost two years ago, was a RailsBridge. At that event, I made friends that I am still in contact with today. So, as the new year approached, I began thinking about ways I could get more involved in the tech community. I decided to volunteer.

I have been the RailsBridgeSF Venue Manager for a brief two months now and have attended most of the events since taking on this position. However, this was my first time pulling one of these workshops together and I was quite nervous. Why? I'm not a developer. I didn't really know what to expect and I didn't want to sound like I didn't know what I was talking about. But, it turns out, the entire experience was one of the best I've had organizing an event...ever.

So, I wanted to take the time to briefly lay out what  it really takes to organize a RailsBridge event like the one pictured below.

 RailsBridge for Women | @Yammer

RailsBridge for Women | @Yammer

First, you need to find a space to hold the event, one that has at least five breakout rooms with monitors to display the curriculum and can hold at least 10 people each. But you won't have to worry about the logistics of that because you have me to handle it for you. All you have to do, is post the event to BridgeTroll and create an Issue on GitHub.

Two weeks out, open communications with the host organizer on the venue side (that relationship would already have been established by yours truly). Talk to them about catering options and ask them to help you find a good post-workshop hangout spot. Keep an eye on the RSVP list to make sure people are signing up and that you have enough teachers and TAs to maintain a nice student-teacher ratio. You'll need to provide the host organizer with final* attendance numbers (with a breakdown of dietary restrictions) the week of the event. *People always drop out at the last minute.

One week before, you can update and start practicing your opening (and closing) presentation -- it's a breeze! Do a dry-run (via auto-arrange, sooooo simple) of the student section sizes in the organizer console. Make sure you have all the day-of supplies you need, power cords, name tags, sharpies etc (we can help with that). Check (in the console) to see if anyone needs a babysitter and contact a service (again, we'll help).

So now it's Friday, the day of the InstallFest, set up a welcome table to check people in. Do a super quick intro about who you are and have the TAs raise their hands. Then let people get to installing.

On the day of the workshop, have someone help you man the welcome desk and check people in. You do the opening presentation (don't forget to thank the host and sponsors) and arrange the sections. Once everyone is in their class, you pretty much keep time for the rest of the day. Make sure people get regular breaks, let them know when lunch is and give a 30-minute warning at 4P so you can have closing remarks and retrospectives completed by 4:30P.

There you have it! Simple, right? Now head over to that happy hour.