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You Should Speak At Meetups Before Your First Dev Job. Here's Why

Will Johnson
Learner Advocate for
・3 min read

If you're a self-taught developer or Bootcamp student trying to get a job in tech can be hard. It's a lot of people aiming for the same goal of becoming a developer. A lot of times your resumes get ignored.

That's because:

resumes are boring

One of the best things I did was speak at meetups BEFORE I had my first dev job.

Speaking at meetups puts you in front of professional developers, but in this situation, you're the star, you're the expert. That's a different position to be in than when you're just blindly submitting apps. You now have a face with your name and a personality.

It's basically a cheat code to stand out in a sea of aspiring devs because not a lot of people like to speak in public and meetups are ALWAYS looking for speakers. You're giving them one less thing they have to worry about.

What Do You Talk About?

Some you might be thinking what can you talk about you're a noob speaking to professionals, There are two approaches you can take. I took both.

First, you can talk about new and hot technologies or tools. I gave a talk on a new framework called Svelte at a JavaScript Meetup. Not a lot of people knew about it and I was able to add something new.

I was asked questions that I didn't know the answer to. I answered that I didn't know but that actually helped me make my talk better for the next time. I can add info about those questions.

Second, you can do "soft skills" talks that aren't tech-specific but can benefit developers. I did a talk on "Personal Branding for Developers" and a talk on "How to Use Social Media to Boost Your Job Search".

You can do talks on your learning techniques, bootcamp journey, what you learned from applying to 100 jobs. This list is endless because they come from your experience and no one can tell you your experience is wrong because it's yours and yours alone.

What are the benefits?

Speaking at meetups lets people come to you. Afterward, people will ask you questions about resources, you're background etc. Now you get a chance to craft a story and build new relationships.

From speaking at meetups people have approached me months later saying they enjoyed my talk and how it helped them. I even got reached out to be on a podcast from someone who was in the audience at my Svelte talk.

This also strengthens relationships with people you already have met on your journey. When people see you really exceeding your comfort zone they start to gain a deep appreciation for what you're doing and will find ways to support you.

What If Nobody Likes My Talk or Don't Do A Good Job?

That's definitely not a possibility! I thought every talk I gave sucked and I was being exposed as a fraud but the feedback I got was quite the opposite. I was told "I really enjoyed that you didn't talk like a walking computer" and one bootcamp student said "Thank you, your made me realize I can be a developer, you made it seem so easy.".

So your viewpoint might be just what someone in the audience needs. You never know who out there is watching and waiting for your perspective.

So go out there and show the world what you know. I looked forward to seeing it.

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Discussion (8)

sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr

It's a great way to build a network, and networks are the best way to get the good jobs. :)

Personally, presentation and communication skills rank very high vs practical skills in the few interviews i have been involved in. The practicals we will have plenty of opportunity to teach, given a certain baseline of practicals skills of-cause.

So this article is great advice! :)

willjohnsonio profile image
Will Johnson Author

I agree you need to have a baseline but you can always learn more. Networks and relationships can lead to amazing opportunities. Thanks for reading Sebastian

robbiegm profile image

How can I find meetups near me?

willjohnsonio profile image
Will Johnson Author

Have you checked

clockwerkz profile image

Check - with the covid situation most meetups have gone virtual, so you're not limited to meetups in your area. :)

miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

Getting over Impostor syndrome is vital I think and liberating. This is a great way to do that and I'm sure it works. I know I'd hire someone who showed passion and curiosity over a dull resume.

clockwerkz profile image

This is fantastic advice, thanks for posting!

willjohnsonio profile image
Will Johnson Author

Thank you Carlos!

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