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A Year in Review: Celebrating the Virtual Coffee Community

We’re almost to the end of the year, so it's a good time to reflect on the journey we've had at Virtual Coffee in 2023, our fourth year. It's been a year filled with learning, growth, and most importantly, community. We’ve continued to grow and support each other through learning, life, and friendship. We’ve lost and found jobs. We’ve had babies and lost ones we loved. We’ve tried new things, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. But we’ve supported each other through it all. Thank you to all the members and volunteers who make this community beautiful.

Let’s explore some of the things we did at Virtual Coffee this year.

Our Vibrant Community

We're a diverse mix of developers, designers, and tech enthusiasts united by a shared passion for learning and supporting one another.

Virtual Coffee is, and always will be, a genuine community of people who value and prioritize supporting one another. We know that growth comes at all levels and that you can teach and learn no matter what stage of the developer journey you're on.

This year, we've seen our members contributing through meaningful conversations, advice, support, code, and encouragement.

Key Highlights of the Year

Monthly Challenges

Our monthly challenges have been a consistent avenue for supporting and growing together. Let’s take a look at all we accomplished this year:

  • January: Month of Learning. The goal of this challenge is to learn something new, share what we have learned, and gather recommendations and resources to share with the community.
  • Get Job Ready. The goal of this challenge is to work on creating, revising, or updating your job packet materials and that elevator pitch that might get you in the door.
  • Creating Audio/Visual content. For this challenge, members present their knowledge and showcase their understanding by exploring video and audio mediums for sharing knowledge, highlighting their achievements.
  • Blogging Challenge: Based off the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge, this challenge is the tech take on writing and working together towards the goal while posting on our own blogs.
  • Month of Learning: The goal of this challenge is to learn something new, share what we have learned, and gather recommendations and resources to share with the community.
  • Mid-Year Check-in: The Mid-Year Check-In challenge is designed to provide an opportunity for Virtual Coffee members to reflect on their progress, reevaluate goals, and gain clarity on their journey.
  • Creative Community: In this challenge, we encourage folks to spend time working on things that aren't necessarily code-specific or using code to improve other hobbies and outlets.
  • Preptember: Maintainers will be reviewing their open source repos with our checklist to make sure their projects are ready for Hacktoberfest contributions, and our contributors will be looking at their favorite repos, evaluating them based on the guide, and writing good issues as needed to fulfill the criteria.
  • Hacktoberfest: This challenge is supports maintainers, mentors, and contributors to contribute to the open source ecosystem
  • Healthy Habits for Happy Devs: The goal of this challenge is to build a new habit that will make you a healthier dev; this can be mind and body-centered (drink, move, read, meditate, rearrange your workstation) or code-centered (review your README, clean your code, refresh your GitHub repo) or both.
  • Build in Public: In this challenge, we're working on creating a habit of talking about the things we're working on, a plan for continuing progress, and creating a demo for the Virtual Coffee community.
  • Community Kindness: This challenge encourages our members to celebrate one of the things that continually makes this community so special: Kindness. Some of the ways we see this include: practicing gratitude, reaching out to support other members, mentoring, helping, giving honest and constructive feedback, and continuing to make Virtual Coffee a safe and supportive space.
  • Pairing: For this challenge, we try to hit 5 pairing sessions per person, limiting pairing sessions to one Pomodoro session--twenty-five minutes.
  • Month of Feedback: This challenge calls members to approach each other with kindness and honesty, and allow this kind of feedback to be a regular part of our process.

These challenges weren't just about technical skills; they were about supporting each other creating a growth mindset, and trying new things.

The Virtual Coffee Podcast

The Virtual Coffee Podcast continued to share the stories of community members. Covering everything from career advice to the latest in tech to all things open source, we hope this podcast brought you something to think about and a little bit of laughter.

Lunch and Learns

Our Lunch and Learns, accessible on our YouTube channel, offered our members knowledge and expertise to a wider audience.

Lightning Talks

Our Lightning Talks series, viewable here, allowed members to share quick, insightful talks on a range of topics. These talks have been a testament to the creativity and knowledge within our community.

Hacktoberfest Initiative

This year's Hacktoberfest was another success! You can check out the details in our roundup. Our members contributed to open source in meaningful ways, contributing to our own repository, OpenSauced, forem, freeCodeCamp, and more repositories.

Weekly Events

Our twice-weekly virtual coffees have been the heartbeat of our community. We continued to hold these every week for a total of 104 by the end of this year. In addition to our coffee chats, we’ve had a variety of Coffee Table Groups, including:

  • The Pack Hunt: An Accountability session exclusively for job hunting, share your goals, target roles, and resources, support each other by being present, modeling good job hunting, and sharing as we apply for jobs, reach out to recruiters, and scroll LinkedIn for leads.
  • Accountabilibuddies: Work alongside others for accountability. Maybe you want to learn that new tool/finish up that blog post/send that job application. Accountability can help you to get it done.
  • Feelings Friday: A safe space to share what's that’s on your mind and hold space for others. It's a great way to unwind at the end of the week!
  • Tech Interview Study Group: Weekly discussion of job search & interview-related topics. Mini mock-interviews, technical topic discussions, job search tips, occasional guest speakers, etc.
  • Frontend Friday Folks Fighting and Saavy Saturday Styles Fighting Every week, a new puzzle at

New Member Insights

This year, we had nearly 1000 people on our waitlist. Here’s a little bit about the people who wanted to join Virtual Coffee this year.

Here are the primary reasons folks wanted to join Virtual Coffee.
bar graph of motivations

Their coding interested include:

coding interests

And, finally, this is a general breakdown of the experience level:

experience level graph

Volunteers & Sponsors

We ended the year with over forty volunteers.

A special thank you goes out to:
Aaron Boyd, Abbey Perini, Agi, Aisha Abraham, Aishwarya, Alex Curtis-Slep, Amy Shackles, Andrea Martz, Ayu, Brett James, Brian Meeker, Caitlin Floyd, Dan Ott, David Alpert, Dominic Duffin, Ethan Freire, Jessica Wilkins, Joe Karow, Jörn Bernhardt, Julia Seidman, Justin Noel, Kaitlin Lewis, Kirk, Lillian Chan, Marie, Mary Lueder, Meg, Nicky T, Nikhill, Rad Turkin, Ray Deck, Raynald Mirville, Reda Baha, Ryan Kahn, Sadie Jay, Shelley McHardy, Stephen Carroll, Taiwo, Tom Cudd.

A special thank you to our sponsors, OpenSauced, LevelUP Financial Planning, and Clerk.

This year has been about more than just code; it's been about building a community that uplifts, supports, and inspires. As we look forward to another year of growth and learning, we invite you to join us in this journey, to be part of a community that's taking a person-first approach to tech.

Whether you're a seasoned developer or just starting out, there's a place for you at Virtual Coffee. Join us for our next event, tune into our podcast, and become part of a community that's passionate about tech and supportive of each other.

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