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4 Meetups That Helped Me Grow as A Woman of Color in Tech

Attending various tech Meetups over the years has been pivotal to my growth as a technologist

I took a leap and left my full-time job as an email marketer, to work to pursue software engineering! This summer I kicked off my engineering career as a Full Stack Engineering Intern at Meetup with the Meetups at WeWork team; we are responsible for allowing organizers to seamlessly book space to host their Meetup events. I strongly encourage event organizers to check it out and learn more here as this service is currently free.

Attending various Meetups in New York City over the years has been pivotal to my growth as a technologist and has led me to go to technical talks and conferences that covered topics beyond my comfort zone, pushed me to contribute my writing to multiple Medium publications, helped me to go from student to teaching assistant to teacher and even served as a valuable resource during the technical interview prep process.

A photo of me teaching a workshop on publishing a blog with Jekyll at CodeNewbie’s Codeland 2018 conference.

I’d like to share some of the tech-related Meetups that I’ve benefitted the most from in recent years that have helped me transition from marketing into engineering.

1. Women Who Code NYC

Women Who Code (WWC) is “an international non-profit organization that provides services for women pursuing technology careers.”

  • What I love about WWC? I really enjoy one of their signature Meetups which revolves around solving whiteboarding problems. Whiteboarding algorithms commonly comes up in technical interviews, and practicing with other people in a supportive environment helps make them a little less intimidating and allows you to exercise the skills that are needed to do well when solving coding challenges during an interview.
  • Algorithms! Meet monthly and go through various problems on a whiteboard in a small group working in the same language.
  • Pro-Tip — Go to their next Algorithms Meetup even if you don’t think you’re “ready” yet! You can check out Women Who Code NYC’s GitHub (https://github.com/WomenWhoCodeNYC/Algorithms) for a sneak peak of the type of problems they generally ask and sneak in some practice.

2. Girl Develop It NYC

Girl Develop It (GDI) is hands-down one of my favorite tech non-profits (right up there with Black Girls Code). They recently celebrated having over 100,000 members across the country.

  • GDI hosts workshops for adults learning how to code with their open-sourced curriculum that covers everything from general web concepts to React, Pandas, Python, HTML/CSS and more. Their classes are generally more affordable than similar offerings at for-profit entities.
  • Pro-tip: Don’t let the cost deter you, as they offer scholarships for every class. Every event they host with a cost associated has a link to apply for the scholarship; individuals are eligible to be awarded up to 4 Girl Develop It NYC scholarships in a year.
  • What I love about GDI? They provide a supportive, judgement-free place for individuals new to coding and those looking to teach what they know to others. My local GDI’s leadership encouraged me to get out of my “comfort zone” and serve as a teaching assistant which was a very rewarding experience and helped me become more confident in my technical skills. Additionally, I’m a fan of Girl Develop It NYC’s weekly newsletter (exclusive to their Meetup members) which features interesting coding libraries and relevant opportunities.

3. Write/Speak/Code NYC

Write/Speak/Code (W/S/C) works “to increase the visibility and leadership of women and non-binary coders through thought leadership, conference speaking, open source contributions, career development, personal growth and self-care.”

  • W/S/C primarily hosts career development events that revolve around writing, public speaking, open source contributions and other professional development topics.
  • Pro-tip: I was going to say grab a ticket to their upcoming 4 day conference but it already sold out ;) So my tip would be to plan ahead and consider attending their next conference!
  • What I love about W/S/C? I strongly encourage anyone with even a hint of imposter syndrome to look into W/S/C. I went to a one day event they hosted in NYC last Fall, Own Your Expertise, and was really challenged to examine how I view leaders in the workplace. I left that event feeling empowered by knowing that with my current skillset and knowledge I already have valuable expertise to share.

4. Black Software Engineers NYC

  • This group is run by We Build Black, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on creating safe spaces for Black technologists and creating educational programs.
  • Pro-tip: They frequently host free workshops geared at those learning a new programming language or technology (React Lifecycle, Python Programming, Intro to JavaScript, etc.). You can sign up for an upcoming class at https://www.meetup.com/Black-Software-Engineers-of-NYC/.
  • What I love about Black Software Engineers NYC: They have created a supportive environment for individuals from various backgrounds and if you are just getting started with programming you will be in great company! Of all of the Meetups I’ve attended over the years I strongly believe this one is one of the most community-oriented ones.

Not in New York?

These organizations have a presence in multiple cities and may have an active chapter near you!