Recently, a young man who has just completed his post secondary education (programming etc) asked me for help connecting to local communities. He's looking for work and he knows from experience that networking and connections are vital. But out of the college atmosphere, it's not always clear where to find people. I suggested user groups, of course. For those of you who live vaguely north-and-east of Toronto, as I do, I suggest:
- The East of Toronto .NET Users Group. I founded it because I didn't like driving all the way to Mississauga for user group meetings. Chris Dufour runs it brilliantly. Expect speakers from Microsoft, INETA speakers from all over North America, me once or twice a year, plus pizza for everyone and door prizes for a handful of folks each meeting. Meetings are generally in Oshawa or Whitby.
- Durham Personal Computer User's Club. More consumer focused than developer, but industry speakers do come and you will meet geeky people in the area. I recognize several names on the speaker list as possible employers of new graduates. They meet in Courtice.
- The Kawartha section of CIPS. Enterprise focused in many cases, IT Pro material as well as developers, and excellent networking opportunities. Meetings are generally in Peterborough and once a year (in January) they specifically hold a meeting for upcoming graduates to talk about employment topics.
It's quite likely that there are Java or PHP or Ruby user groups nearby; if you know of any please leave a comment. Unfortunately most groups suspend meetings for the summers, so it may be a while until they are meeting again. Still, meeting other people is the best way to find a job you will love. Remember, when someone is looking to hire, they aren't doing you a favour - they're meeting their own needs. They will count themselves lucky they met you, or were introduced to you.