Thoughts about WordCamp Lehigh Valley 2017

Yesterday I attended WordCamp Lehigh Valley in beautiful Bethlehem, PA. WordCamps are community gatherings where the common denominator is WordPress. You can be a user, designer, developer, or play any other role within the WordPress ecosystem.

There’s something to be said for smaller WordCamps. I’ve been to ones with hundreds and thousands. They are great opportunities to meet a whole lot of people in one weekend.

However, the larger ones can also be intimidating, especially in a community that has so many introverts. The smaller ones can be more inviting and give people who don’t normally stand out a chance to shine.

WordCamp Lehigh Valley had about 100 people, I think. Lots of opportunities to meet new people without the overwhelm. It was perfect.

Shout-out to the organizing team for putting on a great event. Great venue, great speakers, great food, and great environment.

My reason for attending WordCamps

I attended my first WordCamp in 2015 when I went to WordCamp Lancaster. I had been tinkering with WordPress on my own during a time when I was teaching myself how to code, getting my MBA in marketing, and otherwise preparing for a career in tech.

I attended WordCamp Lancaster to tell the world for the first time, “Hi, I’m Andy Stitt, and I’m a web developer.” I wasn’t a working one yet, but I was determined to network my way into becoming one.

Two months after attending that WordCamp, my life blew up when I lost my marriage and my father within a 1.5 month span. I was reeling, but I kept attending WordPress meetups and WordCamps. From North Canton to Philly, to US and NYC and Baltimore. I kept staying involved in the community and honing my skills.

My network gave me the confidence to take the leap and go full-time as a freelance web developer. Even though I wasn’t able to make it a profitable venture, I got picked up by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, where I am their full-time chief WordPress developer and website manager.

I used to attend WordCamps so I could start my WordPress career. Now that I have landed exactly where I want to be, I attend WordCamps to help people and play with my friends.

Yesterday, I helped a metal artist improve his website through image optimization and putting social media icons on his website so people could interact with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It was such a simple thing for me to do, but he didn’t know how to do it. So, I was able to help!

I got to play with my friends by having hallway chats with them, having dinner at the brewery with them, and then playing pool with them at the after-party.

Having a seat at the table, especially being at a point in my life where I’ve been starting over for the last two years, has been incredibly nice.

Final thoughts

WordPress is an awesome tool that powers 28% of the world’s websites. That’s a pretty amazing statistic.

The people who keep WordPress going are awesome. The community behind it is full of genuinely good people who are welcoming and will give you a seat at the table.

If you have a geeky side and don’t want to geek alone, come out and play. We’ll see you there!

 

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