by Frederick Ige

Why you should definitely get involved with one of freeCodeCamp’s study groups

One of the weekly meetings of our freeCodeCamp Silver Spring, Maryland study group.

I’m writing this article in hopes of convincing you to take advantage of an amazing opportunity that freeCodeCamp provides — one that can make all the difference in your journey as a developer.

I currently work as a developer for a software company by the name of Inflectra. It is only a 15-minute commute from my house. I love the office environment. The people are friendly and helpful. The work is fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot in a very short time. I never thought I’d be so lucky to find an opportunity so close to home, and it was all thanks to freeCodeCamp’s local study groups.

For those who don’t know, campers can get together in their local town by joining a freeCodeCamp group. There are hundreds of these groups all over the world. If you don’t see a group in your own town, you can even start your own. Link

If you live on Earth, chances are there’s a group in your area

These groups enable anyone to create an active community within their local area, where campers of all ages and levels can mutually grow and support each other. It’s truly a wonderful thing, and it’s my favorite part of freeCodeCamp.

I’m an admin for my local group and I host weekly code meetups at our local bubble tea cafe. Here is an example of one of them:

At our meetups, campers typically bring their own projects, and share them with the rest of the group. We’ve also tackled group projects, like learning Git and GitHub together. We regularly plan trips to visit other local coding events together.

These meetups have turned learning to code into a social event, an element that can often be missing in one’s coding journey.

Here’s a comment from a member after his first time coming to a meetup:

My initial intent was only to meet and chat with campers in my area as I continued to sharpen my JavaScript skills. I had no idea that I’d meet so many interesting and wonderful personalities. Here are just a few:

  • A musician at my local music store who discovered code through one of his many online dates.
  • A senior Information technology professional and new father of a 2-week old son, who had just recently committed himself to pursuing creative work through code.
  • A dog walker who rediscovered his love for learning through coding in C and JavaScript
  • A 22-year-old junior from my state university who was already majoring in Computer Science, but was hungry to learn more about the web development side of things which often gets ignored in college.

One group member in particular was a developer who worked at Inflectra, a local software company, who also ran a YouTube channel with 70,000 subscribers as a hobby with his wife. After a couple of group meetings at our local coffee shop, he invited me to meet with the staff at Inflectra, who then offered me the opportunity to work alongside them.

I’ve been at Inflectra for two months now, and it has been the most enjoyable experience of my working life. I used to drive 90 minutes in traffic every day for my previous job — a job that didn’t properly align with the type of work I wished to pursue. I would have never thought something so amazing could be sitting right down the street. My local group has made all the difference to my current and future career outlook.

Hopefully, I’ve sold you on how great local freeCodeCamp groups can be. I would, however, like to point out something important. My local group was originally very inactive. It was only after my friend and I began actively engaging the group on Facebook that we started to see the benefits of it. It may be up to you to spark that initial engagement. Contributing to the community as a first priority will lead to the best experience.

Here are some actions you can take to engage your local community:

  1. Share what you’re learning and working on. People like to see the progress of others. It helps them relate to their own personal journey, reminding them that they’re not alone in their endeavors.
  2. Share local code events. Maybe there is a local code event in your school, workplace or community that only you are privy to. Sharing it on the group can open people up to opportunities they weren’t even aware of. I often share events that only get posted on meetup.com to the groups.
  3. And my personal favorite: host your own events for the group. Creating meetups specifically for the group can allow for a level of peer-to-peer engagement and communication that you can’t always get in your regular “Professional gives 1-hour lecture” type of events. This is essentially what pushed into motion the series of events that resulted in me working for Inflectra.

Here’s a final word about group engagement: don’t be discouraged by the lack of a big initial response when posting to your local group. For example, my local group has 200 members, but only 5–10 people regularly come to group meetups. The good news is that this is more than enough people to start building out a great local community.

Let’s all do our part to make our hometowns awesome places to learn code! Thanks for reading!

Link: freeCodecamp’s group directory