Image from a Microverse hosted Developer Meetup in Bogota, Colombia
It can be easy to live in your own little bubble when it comes to work. You go to the office, interact with members of your team, collaborate when needed, then go home. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, you can certainly get the job done. But you can do more. Daniel Tew, Software Developer at Trello, discusses how expanding outside your daily routine can benefit the developer community as a whole, as well as your career and professional development.
Over the last two decades, as developers have become essential across industries, more places for developers to connect have started to spring up. Both online and in-person forums have risen to solve problems, create learning opportunities, and encourage networking. Online communities like Stack Overflow, blogs and open-source resources have become a place for developers to meet, improve, and share code without being in the same office. This has allowed for a shift to more remote work, as hubs for connection and job opportunities are created. Meanwhile, in-person events including meet-ups and conferences provide more personal relationship building, learning and career development. These various communities allow developers to expand their knowledge regardless of their level of experience and join conversations that wouldn’t be possible inside their existing role.
The best way to get involved is by seeking out opportunities to learn. Each platform within the developer community offers unique openings for education. If you have a problem you need solved or a new programming language to learn, there’s a good chance you’ll find assistance through others in your field. Dive into a topic you’re interested in and go from there. Once you get involved you’ll find a natural expansion of your network and opportunities. There are many avenues for learning within the developer community, but here are a few to get started:
Online platforms not only allow you to help others solve their problems but help you gain a better understanding of your skills. You might have a broad idea of how something works, but teaching allows you to break it down and truly understand it from the foundation. Tew describes how teaching has benefits for everyone: “You end up learning a lot just trying to answer the questions correctly. You end up solidifying your knowledge. This may be something you've seen before, but when you try to teach it, you learn quite a bit as well.”
There are three primary online platforms that are currently uniting the developer community:
Launched in 2008, Stack Overflow is a great place to enter the developer community and an excellent online resource. The platform is committed to helping others in similar roles; huge amounts of knowledge have been shared through Stack Overflow, but that’s not the limit.
Great for answering those questions that aren’t coming up through Google search, and if you’re running into a problem, others likely are too. Writing about it allows a story to be told behind the code, rather than just a question-answer forum like Stack Overflow. You may have to spend hours working on that problem, but ultimately you look like an expert when you provide the solution. FreeCodeCamp and Hackernoon are two well-known blogs in the developer community that are great resources.
A progression of the previous communities, open source allows you to contribute to existing libraries, potentially meet the people who wrote them and discuss them at in-person events. Contributing to or owning libraries is also a great way to get visibility for your company’s brand or your personal brand as a developer. If you maintain a library, others will likely point out bugs and bring elements of the code to your attention that you didn’t previously realize were awkward or clunky.
By sharing knowledge you open yourself up to more conversations, learning and ultimately more opportunities. By breaking down code, you reexamine it and solidify your understanding in order to teach. Proving your knowledge highlights your authority on the subject, which is beneficial among peers - and appealing to recruiters.
If you’re looking for an introduction to the industry, want to get more involved or expand your coding knowledge, Microverse can help. An online school for remote software developers, Microverse has a built-in developer community. You pay nothing until you get hired, so why not get started?
By removing yourself from your standard environment and getting out to meet more developers, you can find opportunities to learn while building relationships. When social interactions are welcomed again, these are a few ways to get involved with the in-person developer community:
Networking in smaller groups, meet-ups can often bring together people who do similar work but for different companies in your local area. These events build a real sense of community and can be found for free online. You can often enjoy free food, great conversation, and informative talks with people who have similar interests. After going to a few events, you’ll notice the same people attending. Over time you will build relationships and continue to have discussions, like getting a fresh perspective on solving your latest problem or discovering which companies are hiring.
Another way to join the developer community, conferences are particularly helpful if you’re new to the industry. You can even work as a volunteer to get involved with the event from the beginning, seeing how it comes together from the ground up. When you attend you’ll have the opportunity to meet people from different cities or countries and be exposed to a vast amount of new knowledge from speakers. Chat with vendors, attend networking events, and hear keynotes on subjects related to your field all while expanding your network. You never know how a relationship can pay off in the future if it’s maintained after the event.
After attending conferences for a number of years, you may start to recognize some of the topics. If you have a depth of knowledge on a subject, you can start speaking yourself. If speaking is something you enjoy, start at smaller local meet-ups and work your way up to larger conferences, and eventually be paid to attend. This can be a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your field, travel, and attend events specifically for speakers.
Ultimately, the best way to get involved with the developer community is to find something that interests you, work on it, and share it with others. If you like helping people solve problems, find forums that allow you to do so. Or if you want to share the backstory on a piece of code, write a blog. It’s often as simple as finding something that you think could be better and trying to solve it. It’s like an itch that needs to be scratched. Will it be satisfying to solve that problem? Then dive in and see what you can learn from it, no matter how simple the task.
By creating and contributing to the developer community you are sharing our knowledge and that always pays off. The developer community becomes stronger through collaboration. The more involved you are, the more people you connect with. Those relationships ultimately return that support in the future through problem-solving, knowledge sharing or job opportunities.
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