With all of the time I’ve devoted to learning how to program, and understanding software development, you’d think that by this point I would have been to a lot of developer meetups by now. It has been more than a few years that I’ve been doing this sort of thing after all, so it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that I have been to more than a few meetups hear or there. Surprising as it may be, the last two months were the first meetups I’ve ever been too.
My plan for 2016 is to make it out to at least one meet up for each month of the year. Right now I’m 2 for 2, but why haven’t I tried to do this earlier? The honest reason was my own anxiety of attending a meetup that I knew nothing about. Every time I’d look into finding them, I would have difficulty finding ones that worked with my schedule, location and was also related to what ever I was working on.
I now realize it’s an odd criteria to have. It shouldn’t matter what the event / meetup is about, as long as there is going to be people with common interests. I was scared of showing up somewhere and seeming like a moron or a complete newbie I guess. But now I’m looking for meetups that work with my schedule and location regardless of what the subject is. I’m allowing myself to feel vulnerable.
This week I went out to a .NET developers workshop, and I haven’t even used a .NET language in over 6 months, and prior to that my experience was honestly fairly shallow. Still though, I figured the date worked, and it was reasonably close by, so why not? I can honestly say that I’m very glad I went. I had the opportunity to catch up with a old buddy from high school who turned out to be into software development now too, and I got to hang out with some other coders who are working professionally in the industry. It was great exposure and I even won a draw, so I walked out with a free book as well!
My hopes is that by the end of this year, I’ll have met at least a few people who turn into friends that I can have real talks about technology and software with. One of the most frustrating things for me right now, is that I don’t have many people to talk to about what I do. Software development isn’t something you can really have a lay mans conversation about. There’s just too much base knowledge that’s required to go even slightly deeper than higher level abstracts.
The other meetup that I went to was back in January, and it was specifically for this website called Free Code Camp. I’ve been gradually working away through the tutorials, challenges and real projects to get a front-end developer certificate, and eventually the idea is to earn my back-end cert as well. So, anyways I joined a Facebook group for Free Code Camp members in my local(ish) area and connected with a guy who was interested in meeting up.
This one turned out, despite our efforts, to be only the two of us, but it was still an amazing experience. I sort of lucked out I guess, because the guy I met up with is currently an apprentice electrician – learning web development on his free time, in an effort to be more in control of his own job security. He’s a lot like I am in many ways, so we hit it off pretty good, and got into a lot of great discussions about programming and job searching and whatnot.
The networking is a major reason why I’m deciding to challenge myself to making it to meetups once a month. From what I’ve come to understand, most developer jobs happen through the people you know. What you know is important, but it seems it’s usually who you know that curates real job opportunities.
The other side of it, is taking myself to the next level as a developer. I really want to just talk with people about what they do, what I do, the industry and just share ideas with each other, while strengthening my understanding of topics I think I know well. I find the best way to really cement your knowledge of anything is through conversing with others.
So this post is really about reevaluating my goals. My new years resolutions were more about typical things people say like getting in better shape, eating healthier and such. Which I’ve actually been doing, but honestly going to regular meetups in my community is probably a more realistic goal, and it’s more inline with my current direction.
I hear a lot of good things about attending meetups from other developers I know online, and I can’t come up with a reason to NOT go, so that’s it. I’m making this my priority this year. I’ll also make the effort to share my experiences as the year progresses!