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3 ways to get involved in a local tech community

Our technology communities are so full of events that it can be intimidating to get involved. GirlDevelopIt Philly co-organizer Yasmine Mustafa shares three simple ways to jump in head first.

The main goal of most of the tech-related groups in Philadelphia is leave a measurable impact on their members. Whether it’s to educate, network, build/ create or grow, they revolve around strengthening the community.

Are you part of one of these groups? If not, take a look at the plethora of choices on places like Meetup.com.

Running one of these groups take time, dedication, passion and love from volunteers. In this post, we’ll provide specific ideas you can utilize to assist your favorite technology group as an individual or as a company.

As an individual, here are some ways you can help (read here if you want to get your company involved):

1. Volunteer: Every meetup requires setup of some kind – whether it’s setting up the space, picking up refreshments, or coordinating with the space host – the list goes on. On top of planning the event itself, the organizers are usually tasked with these logistical tasks. Get involved by sending group organizers an email or a tweet offering your help. It may mean showing up a few minutes early or staying a few minutes late, but it’ll make a big difference. At Girl Develop It for example, we’re always looking for teacher assistants (TA’s) to answer questions and reinforce what our students are learning. A well-organized event is usually a result of the volunteers, and it’s a job that makes for a great experience.

2. Lead a session: Sign up to lead a talk about a topic you’ve just learned or something you’re passionate about. You don’t have to be an expert. We’ve found the best teachers are those who have practical experience in the industry, have a specific skillset, and can impart real world experiences and industry best practices to the students. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, look out for “lightning talks” – five-minute talks – to begin. Getting up in front of a crowd of people is the best way to become a better presenter. What is in your repertoire that you can share?

3. Host a project or hack night: We all need to make time to learn something new or dedicate time to a project we may be procrastinating on. At GDI, we hold project nights for our students to practice the new skills they’ve just learned. Typically, they’re at a cafe with free WiFi like Chapterhouse or Good Karma. You can help by taking the initiative to suggest a Meetup to your group (a lot of groups on meetup.com let you do that directly), garner interest, and meet to go through something that interests you, study with a group of people, or develop something. It’s also a great way to make new friends.

And hey, even if you can’t help in any of these ways, you can always spread the
word about local tech events to your network and mention any of these options to your employer, acquaintances, or friends.

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