Information flows freely when you walk through the door of a Meetup. From conversational language breakfasts to equine enthusiasts – you can find a meetup for nearly any hobby or interest. And the benefit of meeting people with similar interests goes beyond good conversation and new relationships – it can also be beneficial to your career.
Technical meetups are popping up all over the country and across the world. People with very specific tech interests can exchange their knowledge in a space where everyone shares the same interests. Plus, many meetups are sponsored by local companies that may allow you to see their space after hours or talk with their employees about the work environment.
We spoke with Hao Luo, the head of the Laravel Chicago Meetup to get his insights about why meetups are so important, and how meetups provide a way to learn & socialize outside of the workplace.
What do you think is the principal reason that people attend meetups like Laravel Chicago?
Guests come to Laravel Chicago because they are curious about the technology and are looking for a community to exchange ideas.
What is the benefit to having a meetup in a company space versus a neutral space?
There are many benefits to having the group at a company setting. First, the space is usually accessible for most attendees. Second, members can interact with the sponsors before and after the meetup to make connections. Plus, many sponsors regularly help advertise our events on their social media networks.
What are your goals for Laravel Chicago?
My goal for Laravel Chicago is to form a community of tech-enthusiasts who are interested in Laravel. More times than not, a developer can feel lonely working in a silo, and Laravel Chicago is a place where a developer can feel a sense of belonging. The ethos of the web is about openness, and collaboration. I believe, as web developers, our profession dictates us to have a similar mindset, and as we collaborate together, we become better developers.
How did the group start and evolve?
Laravel was just getting popular a few years ago, and I realized that Developers in Chicago who were interested in the PHP framework were craving a community. Together with my manager, we created a group on Meetup.com and had our first event in Evanston.
Unfortunately, only two people came to our meetup event. We were, or course, disappointed, but we continued to have it in Evanston. Unfortunately, the meetup just wasn’t getting enough traction and we had to suspend the group. Sometime later on, one of our co-workers told us about Talener and how they might be interested in sponsoring us.
In 2012, we were able to revive the group and had our first meetup group in downtown Chicago at the Talener office. The turnout was phenomenal. And those people who came to that event are regulars now, years later.
What is your goal going into every meetup?
I want to foster the sense of community and pique the interest of our new members. At the same time, I want to encourage our members to get out of their comfort zones. Often, this means challenging them to present at our upcoming events.
Any advice for novice developers joining a meetup group?
- Keep Being Curious and Continue to Learn
- Make Friends
- Remember to contribute back to the community by giving a presentation of two. Don’t be nervous- we really are all friends!
What would you say to someone who is nervous or feeling a little uncomfortable about coming to a meetup because they don’t know anyone or they don’t think their skills are up to par with the rest of the group?
It’s always nerve-wracking doing anything the first time. Coming to a meetup group and having to meet new people in a new environment is touch, but it really does get easier from there. And—don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
If you’re interested in PHP Frameworks, generally curious about Laravel, or just getting started as a developer, take a few minutes to look at their meetup and join us on Tuesday, October 25th for their next meetup at the Talener Chicago office. As always, pizza & drinks are provided!