Thank you SO MUCH! This really helped put my letter in the correct mindset. Few things first: Paving Scheduler is an app I just finished to manage paving crews. I work for a heavy construction company; "heavy" means roads and groundwork.

Here's the finished version he will be getting this afternoon. PLEASE tell me if I get too corny.

_____________

I would like to attend one of several Ruby conferences going on this November. I want to attend because it will make me a far better Ruby programmer and a better programmer in general. Ruby is known for its capability to rapidly prototype solutions to problems, and for its easy readability and being maintainable. Many Ruby experts are known for being able to deliver quick yet maintainable solutions for business problems.

I would consider myself to be a competent Ruby programmer at this point (see this page http://pragmaticstudio.com/dreyfus for reasoning); I want to become an xpertso I can become more valuable to the company. I°«m determined to reach that level where instead of it taking me four months to complete a project, it would take me only one month instead. I know this because I will be able to program using syntax from memory and having to rely less on references, I will write code that breaks less often, and I will have other resources to help solve difficult problems. I will write more robust code, and complete more features as requested. I will get more work done at work. The company will save money. And if I work on business intelligence in the coming years, we can increase profits by successful information management.

Ruby on Rails helped me quite a bit on the Paving Scheduler. I now have code that°«s easy to read (especially if Grace or someone else needs to debug a problem while I°«m away) and it°«s maintainable; phase 2 for Paving Scheduler will be done faster. It°«s a good program, but I would like to have gotten it finished back in July, rather than last week. This is why I want you to send me to one of these conferences.

So far, there are three Ruby events going on this November.

The biggest (by attendance) one is RubyConf °«08, November 6-8 in Orlando, FL. (http://www.rubyconf.org/) This event costs $250.The hotel that it°«s being held at is charging $159 per night for attendees, and flight finders find flight prices anywhere from $200 to $300. Total cost is around $1,150, which makes it the cheapest event by far.

The second event is the °»Voices that Matter Ruby Conference°…, held in Boston, November 17-20. (http://www.voicesthatmatter.com/ruby2008/ ) It looks like a more educational venue, while also being pricier. It has two 3.5-hour workshops on the 17th (I would request to go to the RSpec one, the other one looks unnecessary) and the core conference takes place from the 18th through the 20th. The °»Core Conference and One Workshop°… early bird price is $950. The Sheraton Boston Hotel has a conference rate of $249, but I will search for cheaper accommodations in the area. The flight price is around $350, but I would drive to Boston. Total cost is about $2,600 including shuttle, but less than $2,350 if I don°«t stay the last night and also (presumably) cheaper if I drive.

The priciest is the Advanced Rails studio, November 17-19 in Denver, CO. (http://pragmaticstudio.com/railsadvanced/ ) The early bird registration price is $1,695, so it°«s the priciest. But it also offers the most detailed instruction through small group study from Dave Thomas and Chad Fowler, who wrote the first Ruby and Rails books in English. It°«s very little °»meet and greet°… and far more °»show and tell and teach°…. It°«s also completely focused on Rails, the web framework we used for Paving Scheduler. Hotel room conference rate is $159 plus taxes. Flight is $500 roundtrip (and again, different sites give my wildly varying prices), but drops to $250 or so if I drive to Baltimore and fly from there instead. Total cost is about $2,700.

All of the above have pages with information on the event and full schedules of speakers and/or learning sessions. I hope the company has the ability to invest in me as their web developer, and I hope I can give as much (and more) back to GOH!

-----Original Message-----
From: rmagick / gmail.com [mailto:rmagick / gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9:52 AM
To: ruby-talk ML
Subject: Re: Getting Employer to Pay for RubyConf

Clinton D. Judy wrote:
> So I'm just finishing my first year at a real job, and thinking about
> asking to go to RubyConf. I really don't have the money to pay for this
> out of pocket. I also know that this company sends TONS of people to
> heavy construction conferences every year (it's our business), so I'm
> sure that if I asked right, they would do it for me.
> 
> But I've never asked for that before. I don't think I want to do it
> casually; to easy for them to say 'no', even when this would be really
> beneficial. See, that's another problem, I'm going to this conference
> 90% to learn Ruby and keep up with the Ruby world, and 10% or so to meet
> and hang out with other Rubyists. No offense to the other attendees; if
> this conference were in Minnesota in the dead of winter, the office
> would know for CERTAIN that there were no other reason for me wanting to
> go there. November in Florida? Boss may want to go instead (not a Ruby
> user).

This is a business question pure-and-simple. You're asking your company 
to make an investment in you by spending money to send you to the 
conference. You have to justify it by showing how your company will make 
a profit on their investment.

So consider, what's the benefit to your company? I assume that part of 
your job is to write Ruby code. (If not, it's going to be very hard to 
explain how going to a Ruby conference will make you a more valuable 
employee.) As you said, some of the benefit will be education: You'll be 
attending presentations where you'll learn about how to use Ruby more 
effectively to do whatever it is you do at your company. You'll learn 
about ways to use Ruby in your job that will lower costs or increase 
profits. (Lowering costs is good, increasing profits is better, but 
since your company is in heavy construction and not software it's more 
likely you're using Ruby to lower their IT costs.)

It would be nice if you could point to a specific Ruby project that 
you're working on right now, or will be working on very soon, and say 
"Boss, with what I learn we'll be able to complete this project 
sooner/make it more robust/do more than we thought we could." (And 
implicitly, "Boss, this will make you look good to your boss.")

So a large benefit from going to RubyConf is education. There's another 
benefit from RubyConf, and conferences in general, and that's the 
intellectual stimulation you get from just being around like-minded 
professionals and hearing about their work, ideas, problems, and 
solutions. I almost always come back from a conference full of energy 
and ideas about ways to do my job better.

Another huge benefit is the opportunity to make connections. Ruby is 
open source and an important benefit of open source is the community. 
You'll be able to meet other Rubyists face-to-face, share a glass, get 
to know each other. The community is a great resource for solving 
problems and sharing code and ideas.

So, from RubyConf you get education, intellectual stimulation, and 
connections. It's up to you to show your boss that you'll come back a 
more valuable employee, sufficiently more valuable that their investment 
in you will be repaid.

Good luck!
-- 
Posted via http://www.ruby-forum.com/.