What's the Best Way to Meet Other Beginner-Level Programmers?

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How do I make web dev/programmer friends when I'm a beginner? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX, on Quora:

The best path to making friends in the programming world when you're a beginner would be to find folks who are at the same step of the learning cycle as you are. Sure, you can find more experienced folks or complete beginners who are eager to learn, and that would certainly do - but you can grow together with other fellows who have comparable experience to yours.

Here are several different ideas for finding other web developers who may be interested in cooperation or collaboration with you:

  • Conferences - attending tech conferences is great. You can improve your skills and meet reputable industry experts who are likely sharing a lot of insight online already. There are designated breaks between the talks and usually a networking panel or an after party following the conference. Being proactive and engaging in conversations will likely get some new contacts in your friend list. As a side tip, consider volunteering - you won’t see as many talks (if any), but you can interact with organizers, speakers, and other volunteers plus attendees at the ticket desk.
  • Meetups - meetups are a smaller version of conferences and are usually held every one to three months. Browse some tech groups on Facebook and search for local technical groups on Meetup.com that list local events near you. Since plenty of meetups gather twenty to fifty people at a time, it’s more casual and easier to interact with other folks.
  • Co-working and hacker spaces - co-working places are popular in large cities although one can find some in rural areas, too. They are designed to accommodate freelancers, remote workers, and small teams who want to interact with other folks. They also organize meetups or internal trainings that you can possibly attend. Or coding competitions which may be plenty of fun.
  • Local training courses - learning programming alone may prevent you from learning the best practices in use by a professional team. Local academies or training companies often form groups and assign an industry trainer who teaches practical programming. You can both learn more about programming and meet other fellows who are studying at the same pace.
  • Online training classes - online platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Lynda Codecademy often provide additional channels for communication between students (and sometimes trainers or assistants). Lynda is now a subsidiary of LinkedIn so you can certainly find LinkedIn groups with other trainees who are discussing problems with assignments, need help with homeworks, or generally want to chat with other fellows taking the same courses.
  • Social media study groups - similarly to the previous point, online training groups are available on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+. Just browse around and apply for some groups where you can meet other folks who are struggling with programming and need to interact with other newbies.
  • Development forums and email lists - networks like Stack Overflow meet developers together, and so do hundreds of programming forums and email lists. Sign up and start interacting.
  • Universities and colleges - if you are currently a university student, figure out what programming activities are available there. Otherwise browse online or reach out to someone at a local university and ask them. Sometimes universities and colleges organize external classes that accept trainees outside of their regular programs.
  • Online competitions and contests - there are competitive programming websites that organize hackathons all the time. In addition to that, different companies increase engagement or look for talent by launching contests for a new landing page, a side website of theirs, building a tool, designing a logo or anything that would gather other enthusiasts together.
  • Flexible teams looking for interns - if you are looking for a job, browse internship applications online or contact developers in your contact list asking for an internship. This could directly land you an employment and a community of more experienced engineers who can help with various problems.
  • Open Source communities - join an Open Source community of a project that you use on a daily basis (such as WordPress, Drupal, any web development framework, OpenOffice and so on). Some communities are more vivid than others and welcome beginner programmers who can also help out with the project in different areas (including support or translations, among all of the other coding chops). You can become an integral contributor to a community and an established team member who helps out and interacts with other motivated fellows. Some of those communities interact on Slack or IRC in the meantime.

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