In my first few months after moving to Grand Rapids, I was a regular attendee at the monthly GR Tester Meetup. Swapping war stories about the latest bug you’ve found and the new devious way to crash an app was an easy way to meet new people. I’ve continued to try and attend these events as not only have I made friends there, but it’s a good way of learning more about my craft.
I have, however, also tried expanding my horizons and opened up to other disciplines and people — and luckily Grand Rapids offers a lot of opportunities.
I’ve attend some AIM West meetings, which cover a range of industries; the people that attend are from a range of disciplines so you can find out, for example, how tech is used in the food industry, what a Digital Brand Marketer does, and what start-ups were happening in GR. From a personal viewpoint, finding out about other industries and careers is interesting; from a professional viewpoint, exposure to different ideas, roles, and problems can be useful for new ideas for testing products.
Staying close to the tech side, I went to a recent meeting of the West Michigan Ruby Group, which gave me some exposure to how the developers there thought about testing and how they went about it. I also came away with a couple of automated tools to investigate to see if I could make use of them.
On my radar and a meeting to really take me out of my comfort zone is a Creative Morning meeting — at the very least I’ll get a nice breakfast and an interesting talk to go with it. All I have to do is get up a bit earlier one morning!
If you can’t get out to a meeting then some of them, such as Software GR, are now putting the talks on YouTube, but you do miss out on the opportunity to talks and network with the people there.
What local meetings have you found useful? Let me know in the comments.
Don’t forget CoNGA-WM.org (Coordinating Numerous Groups to Advance West Michigan Organization). It has a list of all know user groups and a calendar of all of their meetups.
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