Neurotic Time-Wasting often takes the form of reading articles from news sites such as Hacker News, attending meetups, and futzing with A/B tests that don’t ask important questions, and don’t collect sufficient data.
David Kadavy, The Wantrepreneurial Cycle of Delusion
Tech folks are often portrayed as people who like to communicate with computers more than with people. They like to measure things, so they could optimize them and perform better. Measuring people and human relationships is hard, so people sometimes think that they can perform better if they are alone.
People often underestimate the value of just knowing people and being able to have a conversation. I know, because I've done it.
When I look back, some of the most important and life-changing events wouldn't happen had I not known some people. Just hearing the right things can sometimes change your life. I know, because it happened to me.
That's why I think it's funny when someone says that attending meetups is a waste of time.
Meetups and community
I love seeing the evolution of the tech community in Zagreb. I love seeing how it grows and becomes better. There weren't any meetup groups here in Zagreb two years ago, and since then we had two big Webcamp conferences. Currently, we have six meetup groups that I know of with twenty attendees on an average month and this is just the beginning.
I'm one of the organizers of Ruby Zagreb meetups and I've decided to start it after realizing that no one will do it for me and seeing that local Pythonistas started organizing meetups. My love for meetups was developed on the first one I attended, which was organized by the guys from Infinum.
I fell in love on the first sight with meetups. Coming to a place for free to hear interesting talks and hang out with other people was something new to me. I was a real noob back then, learning about Rails and they didn't mind and were very welcoming. They didn't mind about my education or certificates, they wanted to talk about my experiences with Ruby and Linux. That hacker mentality had me hooked right away.
For me, meetups were cool events where I could hear a talk about some cool stuff I wasn't familiar with as a student. I'm not a student anymore and since then I've learned it's just the tip of the iceberg -- conversations are way more valuable.
Yes, that is my excuse for being the last guy on every drinkup after.
Communication at meetups is essentially sharing of experience and therefore not a time wasted, but worthwhile time. Experience is something we all gain as we go through life, so other people's experience is essentially a time saver.
That's why meetups are important. They save you time.
Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.
Albert Einstein, Ideas And Opinions (p. 271), Crown Publishing Group
Community vs academia
Formal education in Croatia is pretty bad, because it's detached from the work market. This is what I would say to my past self, a student unaware of the things outside the academia.
People in the academia have stayed in the academia after their formal education and are therefore detached from the actual requirements of the work market. They are not financially encouraged to teach you how to get the job you will love, you must find that out yourself.
The sooner you realize that you're falling behind with the top universities, the better. Look around and become aware of the differences. Take a look at what they are teaching, they offer free courses online.
I know it's hard to devote time to learning additional stuff online, unrelated to your college courses, but in this industry it's a time well spent. The net is always one step ahead to mediocre universities.
This makes meetups, conferences and hackathons even more valuable. You'll meet people that actually work in the industry and make a living out of it. You'll get an insight about skills required for working in the industry.
I'm super happy I managed to meet right people back when tech community in Zagreb wasn't that mature. You now have the opportunity to find out a lot more than I had a couple of years ago -- use it to your advantage.
Since this post is about people, I would like to give credit to people that formed me professionally.
- Filip Defar - for telling me "Hey, check out Ruby on Rails, it's similar to Codeigniter. You might like it." -- I have indeed liked it.
- Vlado Cingel - for telling me "Hey, check out freelancing. It's working really good for me." -- it works well for me, too.
- Željko Filipin - for organizing first Ruby meetups in Croatia and for maintaining Ruby Hrvatska Google group where I found out about Ruby meetups.
- Infinum - for hosting Ruby at Six, where I met a lot of interesting people and went to my first meetup.
- Aljoša Mohorović - for starting Python Zagreb which pushed me even more to start Ruby Zagreb. and others that share their ideas, discoveries and opinions with me and keep inspiring me.
I would like to end with a quote from a blog post that pushed me to finally put all of this into words.
Sometimes who you know is more important than what you know - and that is why attending community events is extremely important.
Filip Defar, Reaching out to community