This year I have really seen the importance of taking opportunities. Sometimes it’s very easy for us to hear about an amazing opportunity and instantly think we aren’t good enough for it, or other people would be better at it, so what’s the point in trying! This is 100% the wrong attitude to have, as most of the time your main blocker is yourself!
I am currently a student software engineer out on my placement year and throughout this blog I am hoping to share with you my experiences so far with taking opportunities.
Something I have learnt recently is to get involved in as much as you can. Like the title of this blog says if you ask to get involved in something, chances are, the organiser of the event will be more than happy to let you help out — what’s the worst that could happen? If you’re afraid that you’re not good enough or you might not like it, the only way you will ever find out is if you take the risk and try it out. You will also notice that when you take an opportunity it often leads to more.
I realised this from when I participated in AppCamp, where I had the chance to design and develop my own app and then upload it to the App Store, eventually going on to win the overall competition. From attending this, I was then offered a placement year and from there I have got the opportunity to do so much more. I been able to get involved in a variety of different outreach projects, from standing up and teaching 16–18 year old secondary school students how to build and create a website, to teaching primary school teachers the basics of programming logic and computational thinking. By taking these opportunities I was able to improve my own skills and enjoy myself along the way.
In the tech industry there are so many different opportunities and ways to get involved in events; going to hackathons, meet ups or even conferences. All of these are great for finding other people in similar situations to yourself or finding people to learn from.
Hackathons — this year I entered my first ever hackathon. I was super nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be technically strong enough for it, but as the event progressed I realised that hackathons aren’t about who can code the best or who knows the most programming languages. It’s all about the ability to think of great ideas and pitch the importance of them. Going to hackathons is also great for networking as you might come across someone who is working with a particular type of technology that you are interested in, and by introducing yourself and getting to know them, you may be able to utilise their skills at some point in the future.
Tech meet-ups — there are so many tech meet-ups on a wide variety of topics. These are great if there is something new you would like to know more about. You have the opportunity to ask questions and absorb information from experienced people. On the flip side, they are also great if they’re based on something you are currently working on as you can see if people are facing the same issues as you, collaborating and sharing solutions.
Conferences — most recently, I attended the Women in Tech conference in Titanic Belfast and it was truly inspiring. It’s great to hear from so many strong women in the tech community talking about their journey to success and their struggles to get there. It was also a good way to find out what people thought were going to be the next big technologies and also allowed me to find out about other events happening in the local area.
To conclude, I think a main thing to always remember is that everyone starts somewhere, no one is born instantly knowing everything. I know as a placement student there is still so much to learn, but I’ve learned that the best way to improve what I know is to take these kinds of opportunities that are open for everyone. Go to hackathons, meet-ups and conferences, each time you go build up more and more confidence to talk to people and network.
Normally you can find out information about different events like this through social media or different ticketing websites. Don’t forget you shouldn’t be afraid when you’re stuck to ask those around you for help or support, it’s the fastest way to learn and most people are willing to help!