Shelly Coen
holding hands with an allosaurus
Pilar Huidobro
hugging an iguanodon

Shelly was born in 1986 in a tiny village in the west of Ireland. She grew up there with her family, pet goat, various cats, dogs and goldfish. In 2005 she left the village to the big bright lights of Galway. Here she studied English and Classics in NUI Galway. Upon graduating, Shelly realised that she had no clue what she wanted to be when she grew up. Having studied French up to first year of college, she decided to look for an aupair job in a french speaking country, and improve her language skills. Naturally, she ended up in a small town in the North West of Hungary two weeks later. She stayed here for just under a year, making lots of friends in Vienna in this time. Upon returning to Galway in October 2009, Shelly quickly landed a job in an arts/crafts/toy shop where she worked for almost two years, eventually made it up to assistant manager. She still felt restless however, and when a good friend in Vienna said that she was moving out of her ridiculously cute apartment, Shelly declared “This means nothing to me! Oh Vienna!” and was once more on a plane departing the soggy shores of Ireland.After swearing off childcare jobs, Shelly found out that a lack of German meant that any other jobs were hard to come by. She worked as a nanny, and then as an English teacher in a montessori. Upon finishing at the montessori, she got a job in a different kindergarten tucked away in a quiet suburb of Vienna. Quiet kindergartens aren’t terribly inspirational so Shelly decided to be proactive. In March 2014 Shelly began to learn Python. She also dabbled in Ruby, HTML, CSS and in October, attended a Ruby on Rails workshop. It was here that she realised how open and inclusive the community is. Shelly began to attend different meetups and workshops and slowly but surely started to get to know other people who are also learning. At one of the Vienna.rb meetups, Shelly was introduced to Pilar. Here they began to plot and conspire about RGSoC 2015. Since this meeting, they have spoken about what they both want to achieve from the program, what they both know so far, and what their favourite sea monsters are. Their first official RGSoC meeting to assemble their application was held in Cafe Neko, a cat cafe. This led to their temporary team name being Team Neko, which was then vetoed due to a gaming blog called Team Neko UK. This brought them back to sea monsters, and team Tessie was born. In the last year, Shelly has been learning as much as she can, but this is difficult when working a full time job, babysitting 10-15 hours per week, and being a cat lady in training. A huge boost to her motivation came when attending Webcamp Zagreb. A year before that, her partner had spoken at this conference and instead of attending, Shelly went sightseeing and got lost in Zagreb. While it might not seem like such a big point, in one year she went from not understanding enough to attend a conference (regardless of the fact that all talks were in Croatian that year), to attending the (now English speaking) conference a year later, and not just understanding the talks but learning even more after seeing them. She was also pleased to have understood many of the little in-jokes that were peppered through the talks. She has submitted a talk about RGSoC to Webcamp Zagreb 2015, with a sidenote that the subject of the talk does depend on whether or not she and Pilar are successful in their application. Shelly’s future plans are to work in tech, and to help fight the lack of diversity in this industry from within. RGSoC would help massively towards this goal. While she has learned quite a lot in the last year, it is still a limited amount due to the fact that her current job is both physically and mentally draining. With the ability to exclusively learn for three months, there is no doubt that this is a life-changing opportunity. While “work in tech” is a quite vague statement, it is meant in the sense that through completing RGSoC, Shelly will have a solid understanding of her strengths and weaknesses and what area of tech is best suited for her future career. The current hope is to work as a junior developer after completing the program, with particular interest in companies that actively work to help people (whether environmentally, health related, or otherwise).While Shelly has come to computing in quite a roundabout way, her enthusiasm and commitment to learning should not be doubted. For the first time in years, something has really clicked and is not only enjoyable, but hugely interesting. Shelly asked someone to write this for her so that the use of third person narrative would be genuine. They refused.

I was born in Tampa, Florida in the United States of America, and lived there for two years before moving back to my parents’ native country, Chile. There we lived for 5 years before coming to Vienna, Austria. Although, I went back often and always remained connected to my culture, it was inevitable that a part of me became Austrian. For the longest time, I felt confused about where I belonged. My family descends from various different European countries, and I had no right to call myself an Austrian even though I’d spent most of my life here. The question, “Where do you come from?” was always a hassle to answer. Eventually, I started seeing the benefit of “belonging nowhere” as “belonging everywhere”. Instead of considering myself a citizen of nowhere, I feel as though I’m a citizen of the Earth. I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn respect for different people and their cultures, so much so that I feel that it is part of what describes me.Regarding what I’ve wanted to do for the rest of my life, I’m sure I’ve had as rocky a boat as anyone else. As a kid I wanted to be a paleontologist, a dream which I stopped pursuing a month or so later when my dad told me that paleontologists didn’t earn much (coming from a then humble family, constantly aware of money hardships, this was of some concern to me at that young age) and that geology would do better somewhere like Chile. I wasn’t into geology so instead I decided to pursue having one of my hobbies as a career, so that left me with art. From a very young age, my mother who is a graphic designer and spent most of her time creatively, trained me in several artistic disciplines including ceramics, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, wood restoration and graphic design. Soon after coming to Vienna, my brother introduced me to an online digital pet site. One of the many features of this site was the option of creating websites for your digital pets. This, combined with the guild feature, led to my first taste of programming. I used my 11 year old’s graphic design experience and taught myself HTML and simple web design to make pet sites, guild page layouts and eventually do the same for others on commission. I eventually saved up my money and with some help from my parents was able to buy myself a brand new Wacom Cintiq 12WX. My world had just opened up! The possibilities were endless! But, as it often does, school happened, life happened, and I was told to pick a more suitable, steady career.From the age of 15, I had shown a lot of interest in genetics and this pushed my life in a straight track: through high level biology and chemistry, and into Biology at the University of Vienna. I was very happy, knowing that I “knew exactly what I wanted to do and where my future would go”. I didn’t really account for me falling in love with the world of tech though… I had gotten great grades in I.T. at school but it just wasn’t something I wanted to do. It was what my brother was doing. My brother changed all that though. He took me to DevFest, a local developer conference, and since then I feel in love with the community and the amazing things they achieved. This love was only further fueled after attending, and several Vienna.rb meetups. However it wasn’t until I attended Rails Girls St. Pölten that I decided that this is what I want to do.Since then I have been trying anything and everything available to me, C++ courses, Django workshops and courses, Arduino workshops, and many more. I have even co-organized a Ruby learning group to further learn Ruby and help out people just starting out to get a better understanding.I have always had a love for videogames and I now hope to some day work in the video games industry as a programmer. It wasn’t before seeing the amazing community involved with programming that I allowed myself to admit that. “Games are for kids.” “Other people can work on that.” “I should do something ‘important’.” I don’t know if those are my parents’ words or mine, but it wasn’t until attending Rails Girls that I thought, “but why not?” “Someone needs to do it, and you CAN do it!” “You love games, why not do something you love?” “It’s a different but a totally valid way of making other people happy”I have never been so motivated to do anything in my life. I’ve started learning to use several game development toolkits to start learning. Even if it doesn’t amount to a finished game, just making bits here and there, I’ve already learned a lot.It feels like I’ve been going down a concrete path my entire life, but with Rails Girls I’ve made a turn. It’s scary, and it’s different, but I’m excited, and I’m determined to go on.