I hosted my monthly freeCodeCamp meetup today. The first Saturday of the month is seriously my favorite day!
I created the MetroWest MA freeCodeCamp Meetup in Summer 2016, because I didn't want to drive into the city for a good Meetup experience. I generally get about 3-6 folks that show up, and everyone clicks pretty much right away.
I have my regulars, and that group of regulars is growing! People who show up tend to keep coming back. And I've encouraged to be a bit of a mentor for new folks who come in and are interested in the same technologies and languages.
We talk about everything: what we do, what we're learning, the problems we're facing, and how we're getting help from others. That last part, “how we're getting help”, is particularly important to me, because I really want to help the folks in my group—but I also recognize that I don't know everything. 🙃
Because of this approach to the Meetup culture, we've been getting great reviews on Meetup and generally becoming a go-to group in the suburban Boston area. I've had folks drive an hour to come hang out and learn with us.
I apparently do a great job of bringing out everyone's strengths, creating a sense of community and family, and providing a comfortable, safe, and friendly environment for the people who attend. And it's really validating as an instructor, even though this isn't my “class”. It's 100% what people make of it.
Creating a Meetup group has hands-down been one of the best decisions I've made for my career.
I struggle with being a social person in general, but creating a supportive group that modeled the safe environment that I wish I had as a new coder was a decision I made in a split-second. The Meetup culture around freeCodeCamp is powerful, and gives coders an opportunity to leverage a free e-Learning platform while also maintaining personal connections with other humans. Learning to code can be isolating at times.
FCC creator Quincy Larson and I have become great friends, and he even awarded as freeCodeCamp Top Contributor in 2018! 🥰 It feels amazing knowing my work in the community is being recognized, and I'm really helping people change their lives.
I've provided him with a lot of feedback on our little group because I truly feel like I maximize the experience by addressing as much of the group as possible. I had no idea what to expect when I first started hosting the Meetup, but it's been valuable not only to myself, but the people who take the time to show up.
If you're considering starting a Meetup, I highly recommend you just jump in and create one on Meetup. Choose a location—and I can tell you, it doesn't matter WHERE it is. People will show up. Meetup has great exposure, and you can also pop in to mention the Meetup in other groups (I'm shameless haha)
This group has given me such joy, and I can't wait for another 3 years of hosting it! ❤️