Community Involvement

Will and BJ have gone from occasional attendance to planning and then organizing in their local community. Throughout this episode the guys share some of their experiences while they discuss how and why you too should step away from the the monitor and get involved.

“As a group, we programmers have a tendency to be a bit introverted, so when we try to solve problems like teaching people to code we build a piece of software for it.” ~ Mike Griffith

Participating in your community benefits both you and the community. There are many different levels of participation from just showing up to planning and even leading and organizing events. Finally there are many ways in which to get involved. Leading a group isn’t for everyone. However anyone can participate and enjoy the rewards of getting out and helping themselves and others.

Episode Breakdown

10:20 Why get involved in the local coding community?

The most obvious reason is networking with other developers. You’ll meet fellow coders going through similar situations and possibly future job opportunities.

“Show up before you need a job.”

Being involved also helps you grow as a developer. This could be through educational meetings with speakers or gaining experience through volunteering at a hackathon. If you are teaching you’ll learn more about the subject than you ever would just studying alone.

Finally getting out into the community of developers increases your health. Even for introverts social interactions are good for building relationships and friendships with fellow developers. Having those relationships reduces stress, elevates mood, and increases optimism. It also fosters empathy and self-efficiency.

20:05 What impact could I have on the community?

“Just being there and talking to them can encourage someone.”

First and foremost being involved in the community promotes growth in the field of software development. This comes through encouraging others along the path and teaching them the right way of doing things the first time. Volunteering on a project for a non-profit can help them to allocate resources better so they don’t have to pay to have a website built. Also those helped are more likely to participate in the community and help others. This creates a beneficial cycle that leads the community to the pit of success.

“I wanted him to learn from my mistakes so he could go out there and make mistakes of his own.”

24:37 What can I do within my local community?

The simplest way to get involved is by participating in events. Show support for local groups and fellow developers. You never know when you might provide insight that others might not have.

“Don’t discount what you bring to the table because you have a set of life experiences that other people don’t.”

Next you can get involved in the planning of events. If you are involved with a group host a meeting. A simple way to do this is just invite a few developers out and see where it goes. Joining a planning committee is a great way to help out and gain experience while not taking on too much on your own.

“We’re kinda slacker hillbilly hackers…”

Finally you can organize your own groups or meet-ups. Starting your own group can be overwhelming. If possible join up with a larger organization. This will provide you with guidance and support as you get started. You can always break out on your own if that is what works best for you and your group.

36:11 How do I get started participating in my community?

A great place for new developers is the Code Newbie community. They have weekly twitter chats, local meet-ups, and even group learning channels on Slack. Another place is in your local user groups. Most major cities will have groups for all levels of coders as well as most languages. There are even general coding groups like Developer Launchpad, the one lead by Will and BJ.

“Delphi doesn’t have any meet-up groups that I can find.”

For volunteer opportunities look at community coding groups or hackathons that work with charity organizations. These are great places to practice working on a team, build something to help others, and create projects for your portfolio or resume. Other places are working with local schools through career days or coding clubs.

IoTease: Project

IoT Based Radio Telescope

Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies objects in space using radio frequencies. It uses antennas to receive radio waves from the objects and then transfers that to radio telescopes. These can be used solo or in an array of telescopes by a technique called radio interferometry. Using this the power of the telescope is set by the distance between receivers not the size of them. The purpose of this project is to create such an array and then control it with a smart phone via internet accessibility.

Hardware

Software

Tricks of the Trade

You want to “disrupt” others? Others may disrupt you and they should. That’s a dumb mindset. You are part of an ecosystem. Forget that at your peril.

Editor’s Notes:

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