Michigan: An educationally rich community for developers

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I have had terrible trouble getting back on board with the GMT time zone these past few days. To be honest, I was very much enjoying EST and all that Michigan had to offer … lack of sleep kinda makes me want to go back again!

Gary and I have spent the past 2 weeks circumnavigating Michigan state and its surrounding area, visiting customers, attending user groups, catching up with DevExpress friends and attending the epic CodeMash conference in Sandusky, OH. It has been a non-stop rollercoaster trip that saw us cover almost 1400 miles in just 8 working days.

West Michigan .NET User Group logoI would like to send out a huge “thank you” to the organizers and attendees at West Michigan .NET User Group, Northwest Ohio .NET User Group and GLUGnet. These guys were so hospitable during our trip and helped us with an inordinate amount of stuff - getting us to and from the airport, finding local hotels, introducing us to their user groups – all the stuff that really makes or breaks a business trip!

Michigan is an exceptionally fortunate state for developers. It has a huge amount of educational resources as well as willing participants that make it one of the richest developer communities I know. Off the top of my head I can think of at least six groups that can be easily reached from various towns in the state. That’s huge! Chris Woodruff, Jason Follas and Jeff McWherter are just some of the people who are helping to support a thriving developer community in this area by cross-pollinating their extensive community contacts and supporting each other’s endeavours month on month.

Greater Lansing .NET User Group logoIf you aren’t a regular attendee of one of your local user groups or if you don’t know of one near you please do a quick search to see if you can find a group that meets near you. INETA offers a vast amount of information for developers and user groups alike, and there are certainly ways and means of finding groups near you for other development platforms that you might be interested in.

The meetings put on by these groups are a great way to pick up information from interesting speakers, and, even better, they are also stuffed full of people from your area that could offer you advice, support, insights and maybe even job suggestions. If INETA can’t find one for you, then ask me and I’ll see what I can find!

Developer-led groups and events are a fun, friendly and open way of meeting other developers in your area and networking (to whatever extent you want to) with people who are as similarly passionate about what they do as you are. Even I enjoy these meetings, especially when there are delicious cupcakes on offer (thanks to Betsy Weber at TechSmith!)

And what is great about user group events is that they are completely free to attend. You get pizza, prizes and presentations all for free!

What are you waiting for? Find your local user group!

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