Tech Community and Barbecue in Austin, Texas

May 10, 2019
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As I get ready for tomorrow's day of learning, barbecue, and prizes, I'm reflecting on this spring as I've been getting acquainted with tech communities here in Austin, Texas.  

Starting back in March for Women's History month, Austin was one of four cities to host our git hired --f "Women and Non Binary Humans in Tech" events centering skills that make it easier to get hired as a developer.

bartender and women in STEM decorated bar

The Austin community delivered amazingly insightful talks from Victoria Hood, on creating a solid resume, Kelsey Huse introduced us to the myriad opportunities behind the opaque title "Support Engineer", CC Yang gave us a crash course on algorithms for interviews, and Twilio Champion Jenna Ritten compressed much of her full day git hired workshop on how to be a great candidate into a resource packed half hour session.

stage at Capital Factory venue

I was blown away by the knowledge these women put together to share, as well as the generosity of the mentors who came out to support others. Together, attendees drafted better resumes, practiced improving interview skills, and built each other up with tips and encouragements.

Small group working on resumes

Everyone who came out had such a great attitude and a genuine desire to come together and help each other be more successful.

When I had the opportunity to spend more time in Austin to support an LGBTQ hackathon, HackOut, I was excited to make the trip!

Code of Conduct presentation at HackOut

The great people at HackOut provided an intensely fun, welcoming, and supportive environment where creative LGBTQ folks from all over gathered to collaborate on meaningful projects while learning important skills for leadership, business, and teamwork.

workshop presentation at HackOut

The projects the teams came up with ranged from clever and hilarious to profoundly moving, and new or deepening connections of mutual empathy and support were everywhere.

Groups working on projects at HackOut

The second annual LonghornPHP brought me back to Austin this May.

Speaker Merline Raymond at LonghornPHP

I've spent so much time with the PHP community that this conference felt a little like a reunion of old friends, yet one of the happiest aspects of this year's event was the rich diversity of new faces!

Various speakers from LonghornPHP out to dinner

Twilio has sponsored a diversity ticket program both years, but it's a risk for underrepresented developers to come out to an event. Seeing more folks from these communities take that risk is an important sign that we're earning trust.

Attendees and guests of the PHP podcast which recorded at LonghornPHP

The community organizing team did a great job putting together a program of awesome speakers offering an array of valuable content. While I was definitely exhausted by the time PHP-Karaoke wrapped up on the last night, I was also already looking forward to next year.

Developers from LonghornPHP belting out some karaoke sing along

Next week I'm very excited to attend Access U for the first time. I've been looking forward to it since last year when I first learned that this web accessibility focused conference existed. After that I wave goodbye to Austin and head to Atlanta, GA for php[tek].

In the meantime I'm hosting a full day TwilioBBQuest for underrepresented developers and allies this Saturday, May 11th. In addition to the joy of learning, the goal is to give out a lot of fun prizes and feed folks an epic amount of Texas barbecue*, so if you're in the area, please come on out.

This event is open to all ages and experience levels; all you need it a laptop. If you've got kiddos interested in coding, bring them with you! It's a collaborative workshop so y'all can win prizes as a team. Remember: with pair programming, someone can always have their hands free to eat barbecue.

*Vegetarian and vegan options will be available, and you can give us a heads up on any other dietary constraints we should consider when you RSVP.