The tech community in Macclesfield and Manchester is strong, vibrant and varied, and most importantly collaborative and welcoming.
It took me until the early 2010s to find it; around then I had begun to realise the only people I knew in the North West, in the tech community were my colleagues and some of their partners.
My then job was based in Wilmslow, and as nice as my colleagues were, we were in the process of transitioning from an in-house version of Web Classes built-in VB.Net to an in-house version of Web Classes built in C#, with some content pulled from Umbraco. I remember looking up and thinking, I understood how we ended up here, but I want to learn more, meet more people in the community, learn how they are developing.
Not your stereo-typical developer
In the early 2010s I didn't feel confident, I worked with people who were introduced to me as "having the brain the size of a planet", and who were male. Stepping into a room full of men felt a bit beyond me at that point. So I went to Manchester Girl Geeks, its a lovely not profit group, which organises events, talks and workshops for women and girls interested in STEM. It was through them I heard of Hack Manchester, an annual 24 hour event run when the clocks go back. Sadly Hack Manchester is no more but over the years hacks have involved ideas provided by various people including a loneliness hack from the British Red Cross, a Turing challenge from the Science Museum, and a missing persons hack from the Greater Manchester Police.
At my first hack there were around 100 attendees but only a handful of women, we joined together and won the Turing Challenge that year.
Macc Tech is technology agnostic, and has had talks about everything tech related from raspberry pi to adding Microsoft Clarity to your sites.
In 2016 Mike asked me to do a talk. I reverted to my standard response which is to go pale and say I have nothing to talk about (I still do this to this day). Mike was supportive and said I that he'd seen my tweets about hackathons. With Mike's and my Nexer Digital colleague's encouragement my first talk was on Hackathons in 2017.
Moving on a few years I now help organise:
- Macc Tech, alongside Mike, Tony and my Nexer colleague Cat Cutmore
- Umbraco Manchester with Phil Whittaker and Jon Whitter.
We run the meetups with a code of conduct, to try and help create a safe friendly atmosphere.
At Umbraco Manchester we share the latest Umbraco news, as well as sharing ideas about how we use Umbraco, how to contribute to Umbraco, content modeling, accessibility, DevOps and so much more.
Umbraco Manchester is run by developers for developers. A couple of things we don't do:
- We are not sponsored by recruiters and will never share attendee details with recruiters.
- We also don't discuss trade secrets, agency clients or recruitment.
We have found that companies who encourage developers to attend have more confident employees, gain a free support network and validate their ideas. Developers that give talks also promote company brands.
The benefits for the attendees include exposure to new technologies and a gateway to wider community. For people who want to talk we have different length talks 5 minutes, 15 minutes and 30 minute talks. We welcome first time speakers, and the meetup members are really supportive. Everyone at the meetup wants to see the speakers succeed.
Myself, Jon and Phil have have recently embarked on an outreach program to visit the offices of agencies that use Umbraco in order to foster a stronger sense of community and to encourage more people to get involved. There are many developers working quietly with Umbraco, often only within their own company bubbles. Our goal is to help them join our amazing community, where they can learn, share, and grow together. If you are in the Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds areas and would like us to visit your office to share more about the Umbraco community with your developers, please don't hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org . We'd love to connect with you
Macc Tech is tech agnostic with a goal to offer a place for the tech enthusiasts of Macclesfield and Bollington to learn, share ideas and network. Again Macc Tech has a code of conduct and we don't discuss trade secrets or agency clients. You can read more about Macc Tech here https://www.nexerdigital.com/news-and-thoughts/macc-tech/.
As well as Umbraco Meetups and Macc Tech, over the years I have attended SQL Server, Dot Net, Power BI and Azure DevOps meet ups. To me these are as valuable as attending meetups for the framework/ tech stack I work with. I have also found tech for good meetups a great way to explore the impact of the technology we use.
Meetups and the tech community can help you grow in your career, and give you lots of confidence. If you aren't currently attending one, hopefully you will be able to join one soon.
PS Never think there's "no one like me in technology". There's no one like you full stop, never let that thought hold you back.