I have been attending software related MeetUps regularly for about a year now. The other day one of the Directors where I work asked me, ‘Why do you go to all these MeetUps?’ and, ‘What do you get out of them?’ and that got me thinking… This post is my attempt to elucidate the benefits of going along to software development related MeetUps (www.meetup.com)
Learning from the experiences of others
One great aspect of going to MeetUps is hearing the ‘war-stories’ of more experienced developers. Metopes are a really great as an opportunity to learn from the experience of speakers and other attendees who recount their stories of successful and not so successful projects.
The kind of information conveyed in the MeetUp format is typically more highly opinionated than you would find at work, where negative stories can reflect badly. These opinions are often the most valuable, because often these learnings came at great cost to the teller. Cost measured not only in money but also in effort, emotion and time.
Learning from more experienced developers has helped me to recognise situations which are more likely to end in pain and failure and focus my efforts on those that have a higher chance of success. The experiences shared at MeetUps are a key reason why attending has been such a valuable endeavour for me and why I will continue to do so.
As a developer I spend most of my work day looking at code and talking about code. Why then go to software MeetUps? Well, one reason is that at these MeetUps there is a more social style of interaction around software. Conversation typically revolves around software, which is great as we have that in common, but unlike in the workplace there is not the same expectation to be serious.
Clearly it is not befitting of a professional to make light of serious situations. This is almost always the case for conversations in a typical workplace. At MeetUps however, the informal nature of the gathering gives a greater ability to make light of the more amusing aspects of our profession. And not least, gain the benefit of hindsight for projects that burned, which at the time seemed brilliant.
Ability to learn outside your current expertise
Some of my most valuable MeetUp experiences have been gained by going to MeetUps in areas of software that I am not specialized in. Notably the Auckland Agile, Game Development, Testing and User Experience MeetUps have been especially valuable.
As a developer of enterprise applications while at work I focus on the key performance areas of my role, with little or no time spare to learn the specific concerns of the other roles in software development business. That is not to say that these do not interest me however, and MeetUps provide a way for me to see the perspective of the designers, testers, managers and business analysts that also work to produce quality software, from their own perspective.
Notification about upcoming events
MeetUp attendees are often organisers or participants in the wider software community in your area. Finding out about upcoming events, not on the MeetUp calendar can open you to possibilities you might have otherwise missed.
(and drinks… can’t forget the free drinks)
So in conclusion, MeetUps are something that I really enjoy and will persist with because they are valuable experiences. I hope that you will come along too, or if that isn’t possible for you, then at least read some of my series of upcoming posts where I will attempt to recount recent MeetUps and post valuable learnings, takeaways and links ICYMI.