It’s a Saturday morning inside software company CommerceHub during non-business hours. The cafeteria there is filled with software developers and designers, collegiate faculty and students, startup founders, recruiters and a few people who are new to the tech world.
This is the Google Developer Group of the Capital Region (GDGCR), co-founded by Jason Rotella, who is hosting the event. Formed in 2016, the GDGCR schedules regular meetups with a focus on web, mobile, cloud, IoT and machine learning/artificial intelligence computing best practices and hands-on hacking sessions.
GDGCR emphasizes networking and collaboration as evidenced by its partnerships with local and regional businesses in the tech community. “There is certainly a lot of opportunity for growth in skills and your professional network, locally to nationally and beyond,” says Rotella.
The theme of the meeting is Building a New Horizon – the speakers make presentations around how one person’s involvement in the tech industry can have an impact on the world. At the first lightning talk, Pamela Pavliscak, founder of Change Sciences, takes a deep dive into the ways humans interact with technology.
During the second lightning talk delivered by video call, Dr. Erin-Elizabeth Durham discusses how she tackled being a mother while pursuing her PhD and ultimately giving back to the community via a hackathon organization.
The group breaks for a mini-networking session and free lunch. A young man named Josh explains this is his first GDGCR meeting. He’s a software developer who builds custom dashboards for call centers and is looking to meet new people in the Capital Region software industry.
Just a few feet away from Josh is Shimantika Kumar, founder of the startup Qwigle. She’s demoing her networking app that uses QR codes, enabling users to quickly connect and exchange contact information. Mrs. Kumar is here to spread the word about Qwigle and let others know she’s looking for help.
After the networking session ends, Janet Carmosky, Co-founder of Albany Can Code, speaks to the group about the role her startup plays in matching technology talent with software employers. One way they achieve this is by teaching people how to code. “We want to have greater code literacy, which will help create a more diverse local workforce,” explains Carmosky.
Interestingly, about half of Albany Can Code's students have come from outside the tech industry. Of the different success stories Carmosky mentions, one that stands out is about a former forklift operator who now works as a web developer for an information management company in Troy.
When you attend these meetups, it’s readily apparent that the Capital Region is truly a hub of successful software technology companies with several ways for people to get involved.