Diverse Elixirists Part 2: How 3 Programming Polyglots Built up their Elixir Chops at ElixirConf 2021

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Cynthia  Gandarilla

Marketing Manager

Cynthia Gandarilla

Like the tech industry as a whole, the Elixir community faces gender diversity challenges: Just 2% of Elixirists identify as women and less than 1% identify as non-binary, according to the 2020 ElixirConf community survey.

To promote inclusivity and highlight the diversity of the Elixir community, DockYard sponsored nine women and non-binary programmers to attend ElixirConf 2021. They were spread across the globe, from Mexico to the U.S. and Europe, and ranged in experience from brand-new to seasoned Elixirists.

This is the second in a series of three blog posts profiling all nine ElixirConf sponsorship winners. The first post is available on the DockYard blog.

Lorena Mireles Rivero, Chloe Muth, and Natalie Perpepaj are all programming polyglots who’ve already dipped their toes into the Elixir waters, and came away from ElixirConf 2021 ready to apply what they learned.

Lorena Mireles Rivero

Based in Mexico City, Lorena Mireles Rivero has been programming for about seven years, but only started learning Elixir about three years ago.

“At first, I didn’t know about functional programming. I took a class at university, but it was only like a month, so when I started with Elixir that change was a challenge,” she said.

She started with a project with OTP components and Phoneix channels, and adjusting how she approached the project was difficult. But, the more she worked with Elixir, the more she was impressed with its capabilities, especially when it comes to concurrency, she said.

Recently, she began working with an American company on a project that required using Elixir more heavily, and this year’s ElixirConf came at exactly the right time, she said.

As part of her role, she works with Oban jobs but had been having trouble running necessary tests. So, when she found a conference presentation on exactly that topic — including examples of how to run tests — she was particularly excited and is already applying what she learned in her day-to-day job.

Rivero, who also runs TemachTIani, an organization dedicated to supporting women in tech, also has plans to take what she learned at ElixirConf and share it with other women in the tech community.

Chloe Muth

Muth originally planned to start her career in game programming as a stepping stone to game design. After an internship showed her the opportunities in programming, however, she decided to pursue that career path instead.

Initially, Muth was drawn to Elixir because it was aesthetically pleasing to read and write, she said. Eventually, though, it was the stability of the language that hooked her.

And that stability came in handy during this year’s ElixirConf: Even after a recent break from working with Elixir, she could still follow along during events like ElixirConf without having to learn an entirely new syntax to keep up with the latest developments.

“You really do get a lot of ‘batteries included’ stuff (with Elixir),” she said. “It’s not hiding somewhere in your dependency tree like it would be with old school Ruby dependencies or something.”

During her time at this year’s virtual ElixirConf, a session on readme-driven development made a particular impact on Muth. The idea of mapping out exactly where a project is intended to go — and avoiding time wasted on reconfiguring a project halfway through because of lack of planning — struck a chord, she said.

Muth has plans to apply what she learned at ElixirConf, both in a new job and in her free time. Joining a serverless company, she’s already considering what role Elixir might have in a widely distributed environment. And in her own time, she’s toying with the idea of creating something simple — like a message queue — to get back into using the language.

Natalie Perpepaj

Originally a pre-med student, Natalie Perpepaj was drawn to programming as an opportunity to continue applying the problem-solving skills she’d cultivated as a medical student, with an added creative element.

This year’s ElixirConf was Perpepaj’s second, and she noticed more of an emphasis on welcoming new Elxirists. It was a theme that resonated with Perpepaj, who started her programming career as an instructor at a bootcamp before moving over to an engineering role where she began to work with Elixir.

“There was a segment about learning Elixir…and I think just having that as part of the discussion in something like an Elixir conference, where you have such a vast spread of engineers of different experience levels was really cool,” she said.

Most recently, Perpepaj has been working with Rails at a medical company but this year’s conference sparked a renewed interest in working with Elixir. She noticed some of the same creative elements that drew her to programming initially on display during presentations on projects like an app using LiveView to handle notifications for a bike delivery service.

“There’s not as much out of the box with it like Ruby and things like that, so it’s really intentional,” she said. “I think that that’s the most valuable part I got out of this conference: Learning…you have to be really intentional about what you’re building but that makes it really exciting.”

After this year’s conference reignited her interest, Perpepaj added that she wants to develop her own Elixir project. Although she has yet to decide what to create, she was considering developing something to send out real-time sports updates with LiveView.

DockYard is a digital product consultancy specializing in production-ready apps that scale wonderfully as companies grow. We offer a range of consulting services with capabilities in product planning, design, user experience (UX), full-stack engineering, and QA. Over the last decade, DockYard has solved complex product challenges for visionary companies like Netflix, Apple, Nasdaq, and Harvard. We’re also dedicated to advancing open-source web development technologies, such as libraries and tooling built around the Elixir programming language. From idea to impact, DockYard empowers ambitious teams to build for the future. Visit us at www.dockyard.com.


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