About a year and some change ago (wow time flies) I decided to create an Instagram coding account called @kaykay.codes to track my journey, share my thoughts and experiences and network online with others in the web dev community. What I've gained and learned since then is much more than I could have asked for. I've grown to really appreciate and understand how important a community is (especially as a growing newbie developer) in the coding world. Community gives us purpose, understanding and knowledge. We need each other! There are many benefits to belonging to them and I would like to share some of those with you.
A community allows us to support one another and empathize in our struggles. As Web Developers we are often behind our computer screens plugging away at projects creating functions and debugging code. The frustrations we experience while doing these things are unique to our profession and sometimes only other Web Developers can understand. Your mom and boyfriend don't really "get it" a lot of times. Sometimes you just want to be able to explain how frustrated you are because the console is not logging the information properly from the function you created and have someone give you some useful feedback on how to solve it. Other developers will get this and can help you.
There are a lot of communities out there and it can be difficult to navigate some on your own, especially as a newbie. The good news is there's a flavour for everybody based on your interest, race, specialty, ethnicity, location etc. I belong to a small Telegram group called Coding Queens which is a group of underrepresented Black women in tech. The group came together as a way for us to share experiences and resources and to support one another. It's basically a sisterhood of amazing smart women who've come together in support and solidarity while we all navigate through our careers in STEM. Women in the group hold a range of positions including but not limited to Web Developers, Data Scientists, Engineers and students. We're located all over the world and I've learned a lot from these women through storytelling, tips and resources we share with one another. Here are a few more communities that I belong to:
Dev Community(you are here already)
Tech Ladies Facebook Group
Women in Web Dev Facebook Group
Coding Queens (Telegram group)
Instagram(you can start your search with #webdevelopment)
Twitter (huge tech community)
Clubhouse (I love the platform and how it focuses on bringing people together through conversation around shared interests. There's a growing tech community here. Right now it's invite only so you will need an invite from a friend to join.)
Black Professionals in Tech Network
Blacks In Technology - Toronto (I was a part of their Cultivate mentorship program)
The Instagram community that I've become apart of is literal gold for me. I've made friends and been able to network online and follow the journey of other developers and those in the tech space. People post a lot about their progress which includes sharing what new languages they're learning and projects they are working on. We are each other's biggest fans and I always get a load of compliments and words of encouragement when I post about a project I'm working on, frustration with a new language or accomplishment. It's like we all want to see each other win, including me. It feels great to see others who are senior in their experience to mine doing what I'm working towards. Knowing that their careers have allowed them some wonderful opportunities to do workshops and speaking engagements, travel around the world, and make valuable contributions to cool projects they work on feels great. It shows me that I can dream big and gives me more things to aspire to.
Belonging to a social group centered around a mutual interest will keep you up to date on what's going on in the industry. There are countless conferences, meetups and workshops happening at any given moment. The groups you become apart of will likely make announcements regularly about these events and could also have inside details on scholarships and discounts you might not otherwise know about. Conferences also sometimes give out special tickets to members of certain groups.
Job opportunities, scholarship opportunities, speaking opportunities. Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities! I can't say it enough. There are countless opportunities that can become available to you when you're apart of certain communities. I get weekly emails from web dev communities I belong to that share job opportunities, scholarships, internships and other useful information. I get a lot of value from them and look forward to it dropping in my inbox every week.
I would encourage you to seek out a few communities of your own to join based on your own unique interests. The fact that you're reading this from DEV.to means you've at least started here. Keep seeking out communities and find your tribe. As they say your network is your net worth and I believe that the communities you belong to can add great value to you professionally (and personally too). I promise you won't regret it.