Jennifer Cooper joined SocialChorus as our first Vancouver developer. She’s constantly involved in the Vancouver community through her Meetup, Code & Coffee and by providing a space for people to grow and learn.

Most people will tell you that the secret to career happiness is finding a job you’re passionate about. When you love what you do, you invest more time in your job and are incessantly trying to improve your own skill.

Jennifer Cooper has found her dream career in software development and wants to guide people to find their passion. It’s no surprise that her and a friend (Meredith Underell) formed Code & Coffee in Vancouver to provide a collaborative space for developers to grow and write code.

Though Meetups like VanRuby and Pixel Crafters previously dominated the technology Meetup space, Code & Coffee is one of the only Meetups where engineers that code in any language are welcomed to join to improve their craft.

Recently, I spoke with Jennifer about her popular Meetup and how she hopes to grow Code & Coffee.

How did you first become involved with Code & Coffee?

I first became involved with Code & Coffee because my friend and I, both developers, realized that we wanted to set time aside in order to work on our passion projects. We both have busy lives and knew we needed a consistent time and place to meet that enabled us to do this.

Code & Coffee really took off from the start. I felt like we solved a problem a lot of people were experiencing. At Code & Coffee we try to provide a collaborative and inclusive environment that encourages open discussion and innovation.

What makes you most excited about the Meetup?

Initially, I was excited about actually being able to work on my own projects! Now that the Meetup has over 500 people, I find myself more excited about providing a diverse environment and introducing breadth and connectedness into our technology community.

Usually our events start with a series of short talks from community members, followed by a work and/or discussion session during which people spend time on their projects either alone or in groups. Despite our members spanning many different designations within the industry, we see many people collaborating, learning and developing new ways of thinking about programming and technology in general.

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What are the Meetups usually like? The environment?

The environment is very collaborative. We monitor for behavior in order to foster a safe, welcoming and diverse environment. In other words, we encourage acceptance and constructive discussion. You can easily share your ideas and expect constructive feedback and assistance in return. Everyone that attends Code & Coffee believes that what they’re doing is important and it creates a great atmosphere.

It’s also very diverse. The atmosphere allows engineers, developers, and enthusiasts of all levels, ages and backgrounds to come together and feel welcome. I’m also proud that our Code & Coffee events are almost always nearly 50% women.

What do you hope Code & Coffee accomplishes for the community?

We’re hoping to continue offering our regular Code & Coffee monthly event series and also add in some special events that will deal with some of the more crucial topics we face in the technology industry.

There can be a tendency toward dogmatism and software snobbery and we want to help guide the industry away from these types of behaviors.

I also want to encourage the community to use the speaker series as an opportunity to spread their ideas (as a community stage). A lot of people are speaking for the first time at Code & Coffee or are speaking on a brand new topic, and we hope their speaking experience will help them feel more comfortable sharing their ideas with larges audiences in the future.

Any inspiring words or tips for people trying to break into the software engineering field?

The technology industry can sometimes be unwelcoming to newcomers, and software development can be intimidating and overwhelming when you’re just starting out. It often requires a thick skin, and I really don’t think this should be necessary. With events like Code & Coffee, we try to help people of all different experience levels feel supported.

My advice is to stick with it if you love it and try to find the support you need to keep heading in the right direction.

Join Jennifer and two recently added organizers, Brooke Zelenka (also a SocialChorus developer) and Rose Cass, today to get more involved in the Meetup community. Code & Coffee is a great way to meet smart, ambitious people that love to code.

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