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Why beginners should attend technical meetups

I’ve attended, sponsored or organised possibly  a total of 100 hackathons, technical meetups,  workshops, talks and conferences combined in the last couple of years. I realised that a lot of people don’t come for those meetups because they think they won’t understand the content. I’d like to change that perspective today.

You go to meetups to learn and be inspired by the community.

Some people approach meetups thinking  that everyone else around them understands exactly what the speaker is talking about and end up feeling depressed when they don’t actually know. But most meetups don’t work this way.  When I was at the last Ruby meetup I had little clue what was going on because I’m still a beginner rubyist, but when I asked my seasoned ruby dev friend sitting next to me if he understood what was going on  he whispered in my ear, “nope, no idea what he’s talking about too.”

Learning to code is like learning a new language, you need to constantly put yourself in an environment where people are speaking that new language to get good. The more you listen, the easier it is to get used to the terms people are using and how to apply them in everyday context.

Of course, you should do all the tutorials you can get your hands on and build projects, but if you couple it with attending meetups or hanging around other helpful developers who are working in the same field, you’d be surprised at how much more you can learn.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Not fully understanding is actually a good thing. If you understood everything the speaker is sharing about, then these meetups would have little value in exposing you to new ways of doing things, or new technologies.

I know its hard to see value when you’re just picking up a new skill, but this pushes you higher up the learning curve and you never know when that tip the speaker shared about could help you become more productive in your work.

There are so many times that I’ve found out about a cool open-source project, a new tool, a better framework, a new tech initiative just by showing up at these talks.

You might find a job, a co-founder, or someone who can be your mentor at these meetups

I’ve seen how these meetups facilitate serendipitous encounters. Encounters where you may find yourself a job, a co-founder, or even someone who could be your tech mentor. The tech community in Singapore is so vibrant, so active and most importantly, so helpful. Ever since I started Geek Girls, there have been so many people who are volunteering their time to teach, coach or speak for free.

If you’re the shy type, then don’t stress yourself out about having to meet people at these events. My good friend Valerie attends meetups and tells me that she’s not there to meet 100 people or exchange namecards with everyone. She’s there so she can find one person to have a good conversation with and exchange insights about the industry for an hour or two. That’s how she decides if that event was fruitful for her.

OK, so where are the meetups in Singapore anyway?

I’m glad you asked! WeBuild.SG or TheList.SG are great resources for tech meetups in Singapore. See you there!

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