When I first started learning to code, I felt way under-qualified to attend programming-related events. I felt like an outsider to the field, and I figured I wouldn’t have much to say or even understand what other people were talking about.
Plus, networking-type functions are intimidating in general. Honestly, any event that requires mingling with strangers on a work night, when I could be running in the park, or getting drinks, or at least going home to change into yoga pants and make mac n cheese, is tough to get motivated to attend.
In September, I pushed myself to go to two Meetup events hosted by the Flatiron School, one called “Women in Tech” that featured a panel of recent graduates working as developers, and another where teams of students presented their projects.
Both times I had some hesitations. (What if I have to make awkward conversation? What if everyone else knows each other? What if it’s not worth my time? Shouldn’t I be at home learning to code instead of standing around talking about it?)
My fretting mostly went to waste because: 1) Awkwardness wasn’t really a problem. All I had to say was “Hi, I’m Rachel. Are you a student?” and that seemed to get the conversation flowing. 2) I underestimated how helpful it would be hearing from people tackling similar challenges to me. 3) Being a part of the developer community (or some very small corner of the community) makes learning to code, in so many ways, just–well– better.
With my brief experience, I’d say going to these types of events is like anything else: the more you do it, the less intimidating it becomes.