I have a good friend (who I met on a Chinese language course by the way). When she learned about my secret affair with programming, she and her husband told me that I should attend a programming meetup, to meet people who are the same as me love programming. I was telling them: “Yes, I definitely will”. But deep in my mind (or heart) I felt nervous about it: I thought my programming knowledge was not respectable, thus I should not pretend of being a developer and attend any programming events.

However recently I realised that the ultimate knowledge of something probably does not exist. Even experienced programmers are googling things, not just me. Plus I learned a new language (Python), which gave me some confidence. So I registered on meetup.com and joined a few programming groups there.

In the first month I have attended 4 python-related meetups. It was a good experience overall: I learned some new things, met some interesting people who I hope to stay in touch with, and ate some free food too ;)

By the way, if I started talking about the food, so far the best meetup food I ate was during Singapore Python User Group meetup hosted by Zendesk. Until now can’t forget those butter prawns and delicious beef… (sad there was no beer, but still… as Russians say “daryonomy konyu v zuby ne smotryat” which means that if you got something free, you should not complain).

There was one thing on all the meetups that I completly did not expect though. What I imagined about meetups was: a group of “hardcore” programmers meet, drink beer, eat pizza and talk about coding. In reality so far I got an impression that high percent of people attending programming meetups are not programmers at all:

  1. Some people apparently just come to eat. So they grab the food and leave once they done with their dinner :)
  2. Surprisingly many people come for job finding/recruiting purposes. The companies that host such events apparently also hoping that some meetup visitors will convert into employees. However, I was chatting to a guy whose company have been hosting one of the events, he told me that so far none of the new hires happened as a result of the meetups organised by this company.
  3. Met some startupers who think that networking will somehow help their recently born businesses (which might be true, why not).
  4. Some people come to sell their IT-related stuff. After 2 meetups (out of 4 I visited) I was approched by a few people offering me their python/data/ML-related services.
  5. Met a bunch of marketers/data scientists who are using python for data analysys, ETL (extracting/transforming/loading the data) or for ML (machine learning).
  6. A few people come assuming that a Python meetup is the same thing as a programming course where they can learn how to create Github account or install PyCharm.

Where are those “hardcore” pythonists that I created in my mind, I don’t know. Those who are ready to talk about coding non-stop. Well, I met a few of them actually, and look forward to meet them again during future meetups :)

As a conclusion, I hope that more real programmers will attend programming meetups. Because otherwise what is the purpose of programming meetups?