Career Nav #31: What Is the Future of the Community in an Always Evolving World?
Community has helped me as a person. I am a caregiver and a mom of two. It's pretty hard from time to time when you have kids, is always active doing events, or even at work. It's very challenging. It's a challenge we all face as moms. I took a sabbatical and was trying to find something minor that I could do. I found a passion for contributing to Women Who Code. I would go to local events. It made me feel fulfilled even though I knew that I was not working. It inspired me that it was very welcoming. The community itself is very inclusive. I look at my career and how far I've grown and attribute that back to Women Who Code.
I work as a senior Android engineer. I'm an author. I'm a Women Who Code Ambassador and a Google Developer Expert for Android. I want to share a little about my experience at one Woman Who Code Event I attended in 2019 in San Francisco. I met amazing women. I felt motivated, encouraged, and reinvigorated. I was happy about everything. I was listening to the talks and seeing how women are doing great in the tech industry. I was like, wow, I want to do this, but the pandemic happened. I was inspired and wanted to give back to the community through learning or contributing from time to time. I discovered Women Who Code Mobile, which was purely online. That's how I started getting engaged, met terrific women, and stayed connected. I noticed that I was learning and making lasting connections when I was engaging with the community. The ability to connect helps us grow.
Communities like Women Who Code are essential. We have an iOS and Android team in the mobile track, web tracks, data tracks, and machine learning. Women can connect and come together in different tracks and help each other when they are experiencing an issue. There are a lot of unique stories to learn from everybody that attends. Communities are beneficial. You can stay connected and leverage this to amplify your voice and grow your career. Community engagement post-pandemic feels like people are still scared to attend conferences. People are still very tired. You can find other ways to stay active if you're not ready. Communities had to adapt to keep the members engaged. Community interaction has changed.
My community is an environment that is inclusive for everybody. One thing I've done that has rewarded me has created Twitter spaces. I decided to create Twitter spaces to engage my community because we could not go anywhere and couldn't do anything. What better way other than to do a podcast kind of Twitter space where I'm talking to data Android engineers? I did Twitter engagements too.
I take advantage of a hybrid format a lot. I know many events take advantage of hybrid formats, where we have online, and people attend in person. The other thing is online conferences. Women Who Code does so many online meetings that you can hear and feel like you're still part of the community. What if you want to be part of this community but don't understand how?
You don't have to write an article. You don't have to do anything huge. Pace yourself. Showing up is part of contributing to your community. You don't have to stress about what you can do. I cannot imagine how far I would have come if it wasn't for the support of Women Who Code members who would cheer me on. Having people who support you is excellent, and it helps a lot. Do we have a Slack channel where we talk about simple things, even what you are doing this weekend? Reach out and stay engaged.
Community is essential for many reasons. Networking is vital, especially if you are in tech. You need to be networking. A sense of belonging where you feel like you belong because you're accepted here. I can share my voice, ask questions and attend conferences here. It's super impressive. Meaningful connections are also important. It does help boost mental health. Talking to someone helps. In the tech world, things are not always easy. You might get stuck on a bug for hours, and you're like, how will I solve this? You go into some of the tracks and post the question. People will answer. Celine Denore, she's part of our community and said, "Community helps me be myself. I will never be afraid of falling because there's always someone in the community to give me a hand." The community has allowed me to take risks and develop my leadership and speaking skills in a safe space. Having the proper community support has taught me that showing up, doing your best, and supporting one another is more important than being perfect.
If you want to start giving talks or contributing, I'll share how you can contribute and stay engaged. A way of giving back is through mentorship. Juniors and seniors, or anyone else, can contribute. There're so many ways of contributing to the tech world. You can be a tech writer. You can also review the code. You can do a resume review where you examine people's resumes and interview practices. You can answer Stack Overflow questions. You can contribute on open source or do your keyboard podcasting. There is also organizing. Organizing is not easy. Join a community, ask a question, and engage the people. Don't jump into everything. Avoiding burnout and being mindful of your mental health are always good. Find community support. Lean in. Lean into your community. Sign up today to become a volunteer in one of the tracks for Women Who Code, we need volunteers from time to time.