Software developers are a curious lot.
Some developers come to work, do their eight or so hours, and punch out and head home for the day. Lather, rinse and repeat.
Pretty normal, you think.
But there are other developers who can’t seem to get enough of the job. Just when work day is over, they punch out, but they don’t go home.
Instead, they take time out of their day to attend local tech meetups. And believe me when I say my hometown is positively SWIMMING with just about every techie meetup you can think of.
Are you a PHP programmer? Rest assured there’s a user group for that
What about Java? Got you covered.
iOS? Ruby? AngularJS or ReactJS developer? Check all of the above.
Some of you may wonder WHY some software developers go out of their way and attend tech user group meetings outside of work … after all, does a fry cook slinging burgers and fries all day in front of a hot stove want the first thing they see when they get home to be a french fry??
Yet trust me when I say this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon.
I personally try to attend at least one or two tech meetups a month. From what I’ve observed, the average attendance size can is usually at least 20 and can swell up to a hundred or more attendees.
I’m only making an educated guess here, but I feel confident a lot of developers share the same sentiment about software development as I do …
WE FELL IN LOVE WITH MAKING SOFTWARE.
I still fondly remember the first time I came across an Apple II computer during my elementary school days. It weighed seemingly like a million pounds, compared to the featherweight smartphones and tablets we use today.
To call it underpowered is giving the word ‘underpowered’ too much credit. The typical mid range smartphone you can get for under $200 these days, has infinitely more processing power, disk storage and available RAM than the top of the line Apple II computer of its day.
Yet, as limited as that machine was, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.
I fell in love with the power that a computer could provide. Out of thin air, and armed with the knowledge of computer programming, you could suddenly make a computer do your bidding.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that spark of excitement and enthusiasm for computers eventually led me meandering my way down a professional career path as a software developer.
Getting paid for a job is nice. But getting paid to do a job you would probably do for free because you just love doing the work? Those kinds of jobs are few and far between.
I think that’s partially the reason why tech meetups are becoming increasingly prevalent and popular among software developers … just pure enthusiasm for the profession in general.
Any software developer worth their salt, absolutely LOVES to learn new things. It’s one of the main appeals behind software development in general. Nothing ever stays the same.
There is always a new programming language or framework or concept just around the corner.
And tech meetups are one of the great ways for a software developer to learn about a brand new technology. It’s certainly more interactive than just heading down to the library or bookstore on the subject.
Newcomers are often encouraged at these meetups to ask questions to the presenters. Many of the tech meetups go beyond traditional speaker presentation style meetings where someone headlines a particular meeting in front of an audience.
Some meetups are much more hands on, in the style of interactive computer labs, where you’re encouraged to bring your computer/laptop/tablet and start hacking away at whatever technical subject the meetup is supposed to be about. These style of meetups are probably the best way to get your feet wet in a technical subject you want to learn more about.
I’m a firm believer in learning by participation. Even the act of actually typing the source code from a book or online slide deck or video into your computer helps me learn a particular concept much quicker than just passively reading about the subject.
The obvious technical benefits to attending meetups are very apparent. They are a quick way to learn about a new technical programming language, framework, etc.
But there are other major benefits to investing time and effort in attending.
Tech meetups happen to be a great way to learn about new job opportunities. Technical recruiters know that meetups are where technical people enjoy flocking to on a regular basis. So at the beginning or end of meetups are usually reserved for tech recruiters and/or HR representatives to talk about open job opportunities.
Software developers looking for new opportunities, can attend these meetups and learn about the latest and greatest companies looking to hire new blood.
Even if you’re not currently in the job market looking for other opportunities, attending a tech meetup is a great way to network with other people who share the same enthusiasms and passions as yourself.
You never know when that chance encounter with someone you introduce yourself to at a meetup, eventually becomes a future ally and/or job reference.
Or perhaps you’re looking for like minded developers to help you with some new kickstarter project idea.
Meetups aren’t just for attendees.
If you’re itching to present something that you’ve learned about and excited to share with others, meetups are a perfect venue to make your presentation and hone your oratory and speaking skills to boot!
Lastly, attending meetups help you avoid tech burnout.
Even the most passionate developers out there need their mental batteries recharged. Especially when going through the daily grind of office meetings, firefighting the latest technical production issues which your manager is frantically hounding you to fix yesterday, and the general fatigue of dealing with ornery office coworkers, and/or ornery and nasty legacy code that nobody enjoys dealing with.
I personally find attending new meetups helps me remember why I got into the software development field in the first place. To help rekindle that magic first moment of excitement and continue fanning that flame so it never burns out.