Fostering tech community

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This article is part one of a four part series focused on strengthening tech meetups and user groups through community organizing best practices. The author, Justin Stevens, is a senior software engineer and craftsman advocating for developers on a daily basis. These articles were inspired by a decade of good intentions.

A journey to building a stronger community

Part 1

When I first started out as a junior developer, the company I worked for didn’t have any type of mentorship program. I felt humbled and fortunate to have found an employer that was willing to hire me with my level of experience. So I was willing to do whatever it took to be great at my job. My only experience was from school and my only insight on how to do my job was through blog articles. This caused a prevailing feeling of dread and what's commonly known in our industry as imposter syndrome. That term doesn't adequately describe what most new employees feel when they get their first job. The truth is, I was seriously lacking confirmation and guidance. My eagerness to please my employer and push myself harder than ever lead to burnout and depression.

The moment I attended my first tech meetup all of that changed. For the first time in my short career, I was finally able to get a glimpse of something better. By pairing with other developers I learned of different processes, better work habits, and had access to a strong community willing to help with tough challenges. Being a part of a broader social community has improved my craft and my mental health.

I started referring to myself as a craftsman and became more integrated with my community. I became a peer advocate and mentor for others. Over the years, I helped organize and maintain my own group. I've learned that part of being in a community is giving back, and it is my goal to help others that may be struggling at any point in their career.

My journey is how most new developers start out. Not having a support group, or guidance through this process can deter a lot of new developers in their journey. It can be especially hard if you are switching careers. I hope to offer some insight into how the user groups and meetups I’ve been a part of have been successful all these years. Hopefully, this will help others maintain and organize strong tech communities of support for future artisans because it’s vital to continue the growth of our tech community.