The other day I attended the Nova Code Camp. (For those of you outside the Washington D.C. area: In this case “nova” means “northern Virginia” not “gigantic explosion of an aging star”.) There might be a code camp near you, with a name of the form “<short geographic nickname> code camp.” You should go.
Nova Code Camp was awesome! I heartily recommend it to everyone, especially to those of you who are learning software engineering, for the following reasons:
- It’s free & they feed you. (Ok, maybe unequivocally recommending any club meeting that gives out free food is a holdover from being a broke college student, but it was still really nice.)
- There are great talks, many of which are about how to get started with some new technology. These talks are super helpful, because a talk on starting a new technology is almost the same as a talk about getting started at all.
- It’s sponsored by tech companies who will have recruiters there, so some people find jobs.
- It’s full of experienced and friendly software engineers who will talk to you, which is a great opportunity to learn.
That last point, that the experienced software engineers are “friendly and want to talk to you” is something I confidently assert, despite having never met whatever engineers will be at the camp you go to. Here’s why: software engineers who have stuck with it tend to love it, and people tend to talk about things they love. Software engineering, in particular, is hard to talk about with people who aren’t interested.
Often in my life, someone says, “What did you do at work today?” and I think, “Oh, it was awesome! I got to learn the visitor pattern to walk a tree and output some SQL strings, and …” but what I say is, “It was pretty good. I have interesting problems.” And I bite my tongue, because no one else at the party has a favorite data structure or a favorite text editor. But then, sometimes, someone who actually cares about software engineering will ask me what I’m working on, and I get to talk shop away from work, which is one of the great joys in my life. Most software engineers I have met at user groups, meetups, and code camps like to talk shop, and like to help beginners. Don’t be shy.
So when you go to a code camp, and you really should go, give the experienced people there the joy of talking about something they really love.
Till next time, happy learning!