I started writing PHP a little over 4 years ago, right after I got my degree. The first job I got was managing Joomla sites. Looking back on it, it seems a bit silly, but I was so over the moon. I was a web developer!! All my dreams had come true and I’d made it.

Really, I was more of a content manager, user debugger, css tweaker. I used little to none of my CS background (and honestly very very little PHP). Still, you’ll always remember your first, and that was mine.

It was another two years before I started to get involved in the community. For the two years between that first job and when I started to get involved, I was in a silo. I was usually on one or two person teams working on a project with little to no official project management. I worked in an echo chamber where the only thing echoing back at me was Google and Stack Overflow.

When I first started to step out of my echo chamber I was cautious and a little lost. People like Taylor Otwell, Ben Edmunds, Phil Sturgeon stood out like beacons. Rather noisy, but wicked brilliant and very helpful.

I remember the first time I got a tweet from Phil; I almost died (Funny story: he now babysits my kids). I nearly died again when Taylor asked me to speak at LaraconUS. It was my first conference, my first time on stage in front of that many people, my first in person foray into the community.

In the last two years I have learned more, taught more, travelled more, been more inspired, made more friends and met more role models than in the two plus decades of my life before that. It’s been a magical journey and it’s been a privilege to be on it.

But that’s not why I’m part of the community. It’s not to travel, meet nice British babysitters or make new friends. I’m passionate and honored to be here because I remember.

I remember the silo, the echo chamber, being gobsmacked and in awe. I remember the fear of first starting out here.

It’s easy to forget that, once you’ve gotten comfortable. When you’re working with a team of forty engineers and you have other like-minded people at the tip of your twitter stream that you can ask for help.

The fact is that there are thousands and thousands of people that are right where I was a few years ago. Small team, no sounding board, not a single rubber duck in sight. Hopefully they’ll make their way out of those silos as I did, and they’ll start to find their way into the herd. And when they do, I want to be there. I want to help them and make them feel welcome.

Because really, this is home. Home and PHPamily.

One thought on “Out of the Echo Chamber and Into the Herd

  1. This resonates. I’ve been in the “I was usually on one or two person teams working on a project with little to no official project management.” role for years (and years) and while I’ve got nice employers, a comfortable life and sometimes genuinely interesting projects, I do often look over the fence and wonder. Then I also wonder how poor my standards and practices might be after all these years with just an echo. Then I get back to work.

    Some day I’ll scratch that itch. Someday!

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