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I Found My People at a Programming Meetup

vincecampanale profile image Vince Campanale Updated on ・2 min read

Image found at: http://allfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Birds-of-a-feather-flock-together-a5098s.jpg.

I recently took over Elm DC, a meetup in the D.C. Metro area centered on an interesting new functional language for the web called Elm.

At the most recent meetup, I had the idea to wire up my Macbook to the big TV and work through a coding challenge in Elm on the premise that anyone interested could join in.

The first few minutes were a bit awkward, as a room full of programmers may be, but not much time passed before people started looking up from their screens and chipping in an idea here, a comment there. Before I knew it, every single person in that room (there were about 7 of us) had rallied around the TV and was completely immersed in the challenge, some even standing up from their seats and moving closer to the screen.

In that moment, I knew I had found my people. I picked the right profession after all.

Being new to this industry, the feeling of being a "noob" is one I'm quite familiar with. But in that room, experience and knowledge didn't matter. Despite our many different backgrounds, personalities, and levels of experience, we were all on the same page -- we were programmers, problem solvers. Put a problem in front of us and we wouldn't have been able to stop our minds from going to work on that problem.

As programmers, we gravitate towards unsolved problems and stare them in the face until they become solutions, then we go look for new problems to grapple with.

As individuals, our effectiveness is determined by our unique blend of personality characteristics, mental strengths, and domain specific knowledge, but the spine of every programmer's mentality is the urge to solve problems. It doesn't matter how early or late we are in our career, what technologies and tools we happen to use in the moment, what we studied in college, whether we are trying to get a system to mimic the human brain or tracking down a TypeError -- the ability to identify problems and the drive to solve them powers everything we do and is the only reason we can do what we do (and do it well). It's a beautiful thing and I'm proud to be in the club.

In the spirit of dev.to's culture of debate and discussion, I'm curious about your take on this. Do you see this quality within yourself? Did I miss the mark, hit the nail on the head, or somewhere in between? What other defining traits make you a programmer?

Also if you like Elm, follow me on twitter at @_vincecampanale. I post about Elm and Javascript and other programming-related things there.

Discussion

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As individuals, our effectiveness is determined by our unique blend of personality characteristics, mental strengths, and domain specific knowledge, but the spine of every programmer's mentality is the urge to solve problems. It doesn't matter how early or late we are in our career, what technologies and tools we happen to use in the moment, what we studied in college, whether we are trying to get a system to mimic the human brain or tracking down a TypeError -- the ability to identify problems and the drive to solve them powers everything we do and is the only reason we can do what we do (and do it well). It's a beautiful thing and I'm proud to be in the club.

Beautifully said. I would even say that each person uniqueness should be cultivated to allow us to solve problems in a better way. All of those things that make each developer unique are clues that we must use to create better softwares for the people we want to empower.

I'm glad you found your community. Being part of something like this is truly an amazing feeling.

 

This is so true for me.
I've discovered about myself only recently that I am a pure problem solver. I'm not someone who likes to build things, I like creating things but not for the fun of creating, I don't really care for maintaining or making a project grow or sharing knowledge, I just want to solve this dam problem that's right there in front of me. And if it's done, I'm sorta bored till the next problem presents itself.
It's not like that for everyone I work with though, which would be bad I think, but I feel it's true for my most talented colleagues and it's definitely true for me.

 

I think most programmers, by personality, may like to think we've got it all down within ourselves, but there's definitely value in working together on problems as well. Often, we're so heavily invested that we can't see the problem that's causing what we think is the problem - literally, we can't see the forest for the trees.

I've been a one-deep programmer for 4 years, and a self-employed side-job programmer for 10. I'm sure the code I've written during those combined 14-years would be better with a second set of eyes on it.

p.s. I like Elm, I just ran into problems making it do what I wanted it to do. I'm sure the error was on my end...