I’m thankful that the culture at Crowd Favorite is one that encourages learning, experimenting, and taking on side projects. Since I moved here in late 2012, I have been spending my Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) mornings at various coffee shops doing just that. I randomly logged into last Fall and stumbled upon the Denver Code Club, a group whose members were doing the same thing I was – independently advancing their careers by studying and experimenting, but doing it together, simultaneously. I immediately saw the value in the “study group” meetup model, and have been hanging out with them for most Saturdays (and sometimes weekdays) since.

Once I got the Meetup bug, I dove in head-first. I looked around for more interesting groups and found dozens of local Meetups – motorcycling, hiking, snowboarding, music and, of course, web development, are only some of the topics I was initially drawn to. Sadly, some of the most interesting groups had atrophied, lost momentum, or were abandoned. Most others didn’t have any interesting events coming up.

Maybe the cold weather was a factor, but it wasn’t until Winter rolled around that I noticed increased activity. Suddenly there were tons of fascinating talks and topics; it became hard to choose which ones I wanted to attend.

In December, I took part in the inaugural Sass Hack Denver meeting and I hope to make it to Node.js Denver/Boulder and DenverJS events soon. I even started looking into attending some of the larger trade conferences around the country/World, but I found that those carried a pretty steep admission fee, not to mention the travel/board costs and spending treasured PTO. Maybe next year. For now, I have enough planned to keep my attention for the foreseeable future. There’s always more to learn, so I’m not going to attempt to attend everything.

Meetup is an incredibly undervalued resource. Developers otherwise have to wade through countless half-assed, outdated tutorials and expensive subscription learning networks – Meetup is free and you’re in control of your learning path. Not to mention that I’ve finally found some peers outside of work. Also, beer. I’m trying really hard to filter out the less-organized events and to work-in some non-development free time. I’d like to dodge the inevitable “Meetup burnout” if possible.

I’ll be periodically posting my reviews, thoughts, and takeaways of the Meetups I attend. If you’re a member and want to join me at some events, let me know! For the full list of groups I’m a member of, take a look at my Meetup profile.