Giving Back

3 mins

@Sareh88 wants to set us a challenge - giving back to the web community. Can you think about the things people have done to help you? Is there a way you can give the gift of your support to help support those who need it as much as you once did? @CSSconfeu #CSSconfEU2019

— Amber Wilson (@ambrwlsn90) May 31, 2019

What is giving back? It can mean so many things.

What have people done for me? How did I go from wondering what next step to take after a masters degree in psychology to working on a challenging and exciting web app, being flown out to amazing places to speak, and getting involved in a truly incredible community that has taught me so much not only about tech but also about myself?

The answer lies in the support that others have given me. People have given up their time to coach me, extensively mentored me, promptly answered my slack and twitter messages, invited me to speak at a conference even though I never had before, given me scholarship tickets to conferences, given me feedback, given me step-by-step instructions over video chat to build something I couldn’t have done alone, offered me extended 1-on-1 time to focus on a topic I want to improve, gone out of their way to help me feel comfortable, given me free books and online learning materials, organised free workshops, given me kind and supportive words, assured me that I have what it takes to succeed, made me feel my non-technical skills are highly valued, etc. By the way, if you are one of these people, thank you so much.

I am thrilled to have the chance to give something back since I began getting paid to be a developer, and that’s helping to organise codebar. Doing so is a way of thanking everyone who has helped lift me to where I am today and helping to give other people the same support as I received. But it’s actually only one way of giving back. Not everyone has to organise meet ups or put in a large time commitment in order to help others. Small things such as giving a supportive word, taking a moment to give someone feedback, or checking your privilege to help ensure everyone has the chance to feel comfortable and accepted, can help others so much more than you may think.

I have heard concerns from people who’d like to give back but are unsure how to, or nervous that their attempts at helping would not really help at all. If you feel this way, I can assure you that this is very rarely the case. At codebar we often get emails from developers who’d like to try coaching but worry they’d be terrible at it and end up boring their student rather than helping. Firstly, we direct them to our common-sense code of conduct, and our coach guidelines. Secondly, we reassure them that students would be thrilled with any sort of support given, whether it be technical, or something more like career advice or sharing stories. A really cool thing is that we have so many returning coaches at codebar who love coming along, which shows that they also get something from the experience.

I can very safely say that without the people who have given either a little or a lot of their time to me over the past two years, I wouldn’t be where I am today or have the confidence going forward to achieve even more in the future. I owe my success to the combination of all the little bits of support that people have given me. I am very much community-taught, and not self-taught. Being in tech can sometimes feel extremely overwhelming and also lonely. The best way to give back is by getting involved in the tech community, and offering your kind words and using any privilege you may have in order to support your fellow humans. You will lift others up and make them feel fantastic, and it'll lift you up as well (that's a promise). Win-win, I would say 😊