Tweeting for Community & Understanding

I’m halfway through my developer bootcamp, filling my brain with JavaScript and preparing to transition my skills out of the classroom and into a job. Along the way, I’ve been collecting resources: documentation libraries for Orchestrate and jQuery, tutorials like Mozilla Developer’s Network and Treehouse, and oodles of bookmarked pages for projects and tips. There are an enormous number of resources out there, and they cover every aspect of development that I could want.

Surprisingly, one of the most helpful resources has been the least technical in nature—Twitter. Twitter is way more than a place to share GIFs and the hip place you went for lunch. It’s a tool for creating relationships, and I’ve found it to be a valuable resource for a range of things, from technical knowledge and troubleshooting to engaging the local tech community.

Twitter for Troubleshooting

In the first few weeks of my immersion course, one of our daily projects was to get familiar with various commands for GitHub. We pulled and committed and merged until we were comfortable enough for the cursing to stop, and then we researched some less common uses. One of these was “committish”, which sounds like a developer’s idea of a joke. I tried several different resources, but couldn’t really find a coherent answer—so I took to Twitter.

I tagged some developers that I know, and asked them what “committish” really was. In about 20 minutes, I’d heard back from two developers that I know, and they’d given me better answers than I was able to find online myself.

Twitter for Networking

Portland’s tech community offers so many ways to make connections—meetups, networking events, and a variety of conferences. I went to my first conference as a developer because someone I followed was tweeting about it.

It was an amazing and inspiring experience, and I connected with some of the speakers on Twitter afterward, as well as with people I met during the lightning talks and breakout sessions. I became familiar with PDX Women in Tech because a company that I follow on Twitter was hosting a networking event for them.

The subject of TypeScript came up in class recently, and I mentioned it to my husband, Josh. He happened to be following someone on Twitter who had just started a TypeScript meetup group, so he connected us with an introductory tweet. Now I have a resource for learning about TypeScript, and connecting with other developers in the community.

Networking on Twitter can also lead to interviews and jobs. I often see hiring managers and current employees tweeting about job openings at their company. Sometime last year, Josh connected on Twitter with a developer named Joe, who was new to Portland. They met up for beer and conversation, and continued their acquaintance on Twitter. When ThinkShout was hiring a web developer a few months later, Josh recommended the position to Joe, and in turn, recommended Joe for the position.

In fact, you’re reading this article because of a connection I made on Twitter! I followed Mathys+Potestio to participate in their Great Resume Debate of 2015. The panel suggested using social media to add context to who you are as a potential employee, and afterwards I had a few more questions.

Nick, Mathys+Potestio’s community manager, had me email him so we could continue the conversation. We met up and had a great talk about social media and transitioning into the tech community from another career path, which led to this very blog post.

Twitter for Community

Most of all, I’ve found Twitter to be a fantastic tool for creating relationships with people in the tech community. During my first week as a JavaScript student, I went through an enormous attack of imposter syndrome. All of the little challenges that come along with a new way of thinking were adding up, and my struggle seemed insurmountable.

I went home that day feeling like I’d failed, and made the wrong choice in becoming a developer. I reached out to Derick, a JavaScript developer that I follow on Twitter, and basically asked if it was normal to feel frustrated and challenged like this. He responded and reassured me that it was 100% normal—that he, and all developers, feel this way all the time because they’re always learning new things. He was incredibly encouraging—not just about tackling JavaScript, but about being able to get over the block and ask him about it.

Our conversation made such a big difference in my outlook for learning, and I’ve become more accepting of the challenges I come across, because it means I’m learning something new.

Window to the World

Twitter is probably the only place where following someone you don’t know is an acceptable thing to do! Were you inspired by a speaker’s ideas at a conference? Tweet a quote that resonated with you, or let them know how much you enjoyed their talk. Is there a company that you would love to work for? Follow them to see what they’re talking about and what’s important to their staff. Then reach out to someone at the company who does what you want to do—ask them to meet up for coffee or beer to talk about their work.

Just like JSFiddle, GitHub, or Stack Overflow, Twitter is a tool for developers. You can use Twitter to solve a code problem that’s got you stumped, or celebrate a coding triumph (all of your merges to GitHub worked!). You can reach out to people and organizations for networking, or find a meetup group that’s involved with something you want to learn.

The foundation for all of these experiences on Twitter is building relationships—being able to connect with people across town or across the world; reaching out to start a conversation and create a relationship.

Twitter describes itself as “your window to the world”—so throw open that window and start building!

This article was originally published on Mathys + Potestio.

Written on June 26, 2015