In computer science, networks allow devices to exchange data using connections (data links) between nodes. The same concept applies in the real world. Building a network of peers allows you to share resources, exchange ideas and learn about opportunities you might have missed otherwise. Networking is important for career development in every field, including computer science. According to the 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, the most common way developers found their most recent job was through a friend, family member or former colleague who told them about it.
If you’re looking for ways to meet more developers and programmers, here are some of the top networking opportunities.
Depending on your interests and where you’re at in your career, you may think about joining a professional association. Different associations and organizations serve different audiences, but there’s no shortage of options so you should have no trouble finding a group of likeminded professionals. Some popular associations for developers and other tech professionals include:
- Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) – “ACM brings together computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges. As the world’s largest computing society, ACM strengthens the profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence.”
- Association of Software Professionals (ASP) – “The ASP is a professional trade association of software developers who are creating and marketing leading-edge applications. Join the ASP community now, and learn from other successful developers of desktop and laptop programs, software as a service (SaaS) applications, cloud computing, and mobile apps. These members share their experiences of mastering the most promising technologies, benefiting from new marketing strategies, and working through the business challenges we all face.”
- Association for Women in Computing (AWC) – “The Association for Women in Computing (AWC) was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1978 and is one of the first professional organizations for women in computing. AWC is dedicated to promoting the advancement of women in the computing professions. Our members include many types of computer professionals, such as programmers, system analysts, operators, technical writers, Internet specialists, trainers and consultants.”
- International Association of Software Architects (IASA) – “Our plan is simple; create an international community of practicing architects and allow that body to drive standards according to their current needs. The IT architecture profession is continuously evolving, and architects everywhere are eager to learn about the latest technology and best practices. IASA helps make this possible for thousands of practicing architects around the globe.”
- International Game Developers Association (IGDA) – “As an international organization, the IGDA is a U.S.-based 501(c)6 non-profit professional association that exists as a global network of collaborative projects and communities comprised of individuals from all fields of game development – from programmers and producers to writers, artists, QA and localization. We bring together developers at key industry conferences, in over 90 Chapters and in Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to improve their lives and their craft.”
In the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, about a quarter of respondents indicated that they had participated in a hackathon and/or an online coding competition. Among the respondents who said they have participated in hackathons or online coding competitions, the number one reason for doing so is that they find them enjoyable. Many developers also use hackathons and online coding competitions to meet like-minded professionals: nearly 30 percent participate to build their professional network.
Upcoming hackathon events
The idea of a hackathon is to collaboratively code a working prototype from scratch in a short period of time (usually between 24 and 48 hours). Hackathons also serve as complex recruiting events, and are commonly organized by venture capitalists and head-hunters for top tech firms in order to spot and poach talented developers. In 2016, there were 3,450 organized hackathons that attracted more than 200,000 participants and resulted in the creation of more than 13,000 prototypes.
For a complete list of upcoming hackathon events in your area and around the world, check out the following hackathon events calendars and search engines:
Popular coding challenge websites
Coding challenge sites are a great way to improve your programming skills. Most sites also allow members to discuss challenges and puzzles with one another, so you can easily grow your professional network with developers all over the world. Tech recruiters often use coding challenge sites to find talent and weed-out candidates, so you may even be able to start or advance your career by participating in online coding challenges and competitions.
Below is a list of some popular coding challenge sites to get you started (based on level of difficulty, from beginner to advanced):
Meetup is a platform where members can organize and find real-life gatherings of people who share similar interests, hobbies and passions. The “computer programming” topic has over nine million members around the world. Find computer programming meetups in your area and build your professional network with developers, coders and programmers in your own backyard.
If you’re interested in networking to advance your career, you may also want to consider going back to school to earn your master’s in computer science. Online CS programs will allow you to meet professionals all over the world, so you aren’t limited to developers (and job opportunities) in your area. The ability to work with bright minds in school and apply that knowledge in work helps master’s in computer science degree students to advance more quickly as they gain increased skills.
Another reason to pursue a master’s in computer science? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), computer science graduates are projected to be the highest-paid master’s degree graduates. Best of all, online programs allow you to work toward a master’s degree in computer science wherever and whenever it is most convenient for you.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Compare Computer Science programs today, and find the one that’s right for you.