Recently I shuttered my first Ruby on Rails app, Scrawlers. Scrawlers launched nearly five years ago. The goal was to bring consistent writing to the people in the form of 100-word stories. The long term goal was to bring the writing workshop to the web. That goal was never achieved.
In the process of building Scrawlers I also killed my prior career as an enterprise programmer. Scrawlers was, even more than a platform for writing, a way for me to get familiar with Rails. It was a link I could put in my cover letter. It was damn fun.
Shortly after swinging open the doors to Scrawlers, inviting the first outsiders in, I also started working with these guys. Ten days into my relationship with Harvest, I blogged: “It’s been a blast doing work that interests me to the point of addiction.” It has been a wild ride, from being the fourth person on the team to today’s 19-member team.
Scrawlers eventually withered on the vine. A four-year-old project with little uptake feels more like a chore than a pleasure. The lack of success for Scrawlers does not mean it was a failure. Beyond simply allowing me a playground to learn Ruby and Rails, it played a vital role in catching the eye of my current employer. Dinking with a project is often a joy. Releasing it to the world is a pain. It separates the men from the boys. (Sorry, but that’s the cliché.)
When looking to change lanes in your career, coming to your desired employer with a passion for their products and your work is a must. It gets your foot in the door. Proving you are not too timid to launch, not too distracted to finish, gets you over the mantle and shaking hands with your new teammates.