Remember when you were little and you had all those recitals. It was so easy when you were rehearsing with everyone, and much harder when you were on stage. Seeing others doing the same thing you were trying to do gave you some measure of confidence that you could do it. That’s what a community does for you. Unless of course you did not belong to any clubs, then I have no analogy for you.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb
The low voices of many people has more effect than that of one person screaming in the street. Can you believe that there was a time when there were many female mathematicians but they could not have engineering degrees? It sounds crazy. The world was willing to admit that they had the ability, but was unwilling to give them a certificate to prove it. Communities have helped us, over the years, to get the world listen, to pass our message explicitly and to get what we want. Communities for women have been making changes to the history of the world for as long as we know.
But beyond “the cause,” how does a community benefit you personally?
Freedom to make mistakes
The first thing about a community of women in technology is that you can go in completely clueless and share all your mistakes without being judged. In a community, there are different kinds of people; the professionals, the motivators, the ones who have no idea what they’re doing, the ones who really just need accountability partners. Whichever one you are; you will most definitely find other people like you. With this kind of mix, you can make mistakes without feeling like a failure. You can make mistakes and know you won’t make them again because there will definitely be someone to take a look, make an explanation, or leave a comment.
Opportunity to grow
Communities inspire growth. The encouragement that you can receive in one of these communities cannot be gotten just from one person or by following an Instagram page. Communities of likeminded people will challenge you to do more and be more. When you are surrounded by people who are constantly evolving, you have no choice but to grow. Professional communities are filled with people who are always willing to teach what they know. From webinars to books, you will most definitely find the resources you need to gain more knowledge on every subject.
Opportunity to receive opportunities
As long as you are ready and have the skills, professional communities are usually a great place to find the most suitable job opportunities. It’s like having many members of one family; with each person looking out for everyone else. When people have access to opportunities like jobs, internships and scholarships, the first thing most will do is to send it to their tribe.
Being in a community of people in the same industry as you is like having a thousand teachers, mentors and study group partners all at once. It is a safe and comfortable environment for growth where you are not being judged by your looks, gender, color or language, because everyone is the same, or at least, all similar in their differences. Black women are not the majority or even the bigger minority in the tech industry. This state of being comes with many challenges, and can become overwhelming. However, knowing that there are other people who are going through or have gone through the same things that you are can really be a source of inspiration. If you are part of a community like this, invite others. If you are not a member of any, you should find one and join. You’ll be the better for it.