It is often said, “it takes a village” in recognition of the multiple people involved when accomplishing a remarkable act. Community has been the cornerstone in people’s lives and in numerous cultures around the world. It is the life that is breathed into our day-to-day. It is often filled with motivators, confidants, and role models. It is the beating heart for people to remember their heritage, for people to learn from one another when embarking on a new life milestone, or for people who share the same interests in film, television, or music.
Much like seeking a community when moving afar or when traveling, community should also be sought, nurtured, and maintained in the technology industry. Community reminds us of home because it can create a safe space for people to feel open, candid, and seek joy with others.
As humans, we crave to be around others and research has shown a higher likelihood of people functioning better when experiencing togetherness. The camaraderie leveraged from communities allows us to become better people by adopting positive habits and broadening our perspective of the world. Community is pivotal to personal growth, as well as professional growth. Akin to seeking community when we may be far from home, it can also be achieved the same in the technology industry, regardless of where you are in your career.
The Oxford dictionary roughly defines community as “the feeling of sharing things and belonging to a group”. Knowledge transfer within tech communities allows technologists of varying backgrounds and expertise to continuously learn in order to expand their growth and develop their careers. Communities within the technology industry have an assortment of educational material to supplement learning, such as blog posts, videos, and tutorials. It shows that, no matter how long you have been in the industry, there can be useful knowledge to impart to others. For instance, early-career professionals can share reflections on how to secure a position in the industry with those who are searching for a Junior or Entry-Level role and with students or graduates seeking work experience. In addition, mid-career professionals can share knowledge on how to navigate the first few years in the career for progression to the early-careers community and the same from seniors to the mid-careers community.
As such, resource sharing is a constant for communities to continue to thrive and deliver value to their members. Resources do not always need to be in the form of educational materials produced by the author themselves, but sharing material that has worked for them, credible articles with tangible actions, or advice to the enquirer if they themselves had experienced something similar. Sharing resources allows one another within the community to grow, nurture connections, and derive value from the educational material produced by the original poster. Sharing resources may also help reduce “gatekeep” culture and allow people to feel less alone in their experiences.
People are one of the most valuable and important resources as their experiences can help cultivate a more positive journey in our career. People are also one of the most vital foundations of any community. Mentoring gives people the opportunity to give back to the community as a mentor through knowledge sharing and impartial advice, as well as giving mentees the opportunity to be guided through their career development and lean on an experienced industry professional. For something more targeted, some communities also provide coaching services. This allows members to have a more structured approach to navigating a single goal they wish to achieve within a set period of time. It can be an immersive experience that allows the member to be introspective through the help of their coach or mentor and identify the gaps to address, along with SMART goals in order to fill these gaps.
In addition, people within communities open an opportunity to network. The feeling of sharing things and belonging to a group can form the foundations to form meaningful connections with one another. Networking, especially for those who are new to the industry or new to networking in its entirety, may feel intimidated in approaching this as it can be an activity not done before. Networking can often be wrongly perceived as a formal activity, whereas it is simply connecting with people whose work you admire and who are also interested in your work. Communities can break down the barrier and the fear of networking by already providing a shared interest and common goal between two people.
Furthermore, communities allow people to be open and inquisitive. Whether it is navigating a new career, helping with learning a new programming language, or advice on preparing for certifications, the list goes on. The members can help provide motivation and keep you accountable in your learning path by giving their astute advice on areas that should be key to your focus. Communities within the technology industry can also be a safe space for those who are experiencing challenges and need solace by bringing people from different locations together in a centralised space. This can make people feel less isolated and more represented in their experiences. It can also reduce taboo in discussions that may feel most concerning to them, such as women’s health.
Communities, at the heart of it, help people to discover their passion and continuously remind them of the reason why they wanted to pursue a future in technology. A forum of people who consistently recognise your achievements, impart their knowledge, and give you a platform to speak up can help you to stay continuous on your journey. It can also give you the motivation to pay it forward and do the same for newer individuals in technology by helping them discover and ignite their passion. This, in turn, can produce a positive cycle of passionate technologists who are community-driven and wish to make a positive impact through their work and engagements.
Some of my favourite communities in technology:
- Women who Code
- Ladies in DevOps
- Ada’s List
- Code First Girls
- Like-Minded Females
- Free Code Camp
Article written by Ahsana Nabilah Choudhury, Associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co.