Reaching out to community

Dec 01, 2014

Programmers are often portrayed as loners, hacking the code in a dark basement and having no contact with living beings except for their cat. Fortunately, that is, in most cases, far from the truth. Developer communities are thriving all over the world. There’s all kinds of events, meetups, drink ups, conferences, anti-conferences and what not.

The reason these kind of events are popular is because they are extremely useful (and fun). If you are not attending them, you should. It does not matter if you are just starting out. If you are just starting out it’s the best time to get involved in the community.

Instead of explaining why meetups are great I’ll tell you a short story about how meeting up with few strangers changed my life.

Not a long time ago, while I was still in college, I tried organizing a Ruby developers club. At that time, meetups still weren’t popular in Zagreb, and not many people used Ruby. The idea was that we would meet up regularly and work on open source projects, learn from each other and experience working in a team. Unfortunately, the project was a complete failure. We had two meetups with three people attending, and that was about it. Working on a project as a team required significant amount of time and we were just too busy doing other stuff.

However, I stayed in contact with people who attended those meetups and two of them, Ivan and Hrvoje, had a great impact on my career.

Few months later Hrvoje told me that he started freelancing. He explained in detail how he managed to get his first clients and what you are expected to know. I was interested in freelancing before, but I always hought that it’s too hard to break into the industry. His success encouraged me to give it a try. And it worked; I started freelancing while I was on my last year in college. It was great; I earned some pocket money and gained a lot of experience.

Almost two years later I’ll meet Ivan again. He stumbled upon same coworking space that I was working in, so we started catching up. Over the next few months, we attended few hackathons and worked on a smaller project together. We got along quite well, and one day we decided to join forces and start a company together.

I never looked back at it earlier, but it’s funny how things work out. If it wasn’t for that failure of a club I would probably never get into freelancing, and definitely wouldn’t have started this dev shop with Ivan. Sometimes who you know is more important than what you know - and that is why attending community events is extremely important. You just might meet your future business partner or employer.