How to Break into Mobile Development

Who doesn’t want to get into mobile development? With increasing demand for apps and growing salaries, there’s certainly a lot to like. At the Dice Mobile Development Community main page, traffic has certainly increased.

But if you’re just starting out in this lucrative field, it may be difficult to break into and find the community of mobile professionals to help.

The following are some suggestions to help with leap to mobile.

Meet Ups

Get online to Meetup.com, where you can find a collection of groups catering to all kinds of mobile development activities. I counted 251 groups specializing in iOS. Another 246 groups contain “Ruby on Rails” in their name. Over 1600 groups are interested in C#. Punch “mobile developers” into the search bar and over 1200 groups appear.

The Android Developers Meetup group even has it’s own category and landing page. Here you’ll find 390 groups spread across 100,000 members, in 174 cities and 27 different countries. Seven of the top 10 groups are in the San Francisco Bay area, one is in Washington D.C., and another is in New York City. The top 9 represent a little over 26,000 members. Bangalore (number 10) has almost 1700 members. If you click on the “show all” link, you’ll find 386 groups with two or more members. Clearly, somebody is out there, ready to talk to you about Android mobile development, no matter where you live.

Linux User Groups

Linux User Groups (LUG) offer a rich assortment of personalities and interests, which might appeal to the mobile developer. I’ve met some scary-smart people in LUGs. I’ve also met a published author or two. One guy I know has a PhD and designs antennas for spacecraft. They’re all great people and truly appreciate spirited conversation through mutually beneficial exchange of valuable insights and information.

Meetings usually start out with introductions, followed by a short rundown of LUG business, and might progress to one or more short tutorial sessions. Some LUGs offer live audio streaming, video of the presenter’s screen, and chat channels for remote attendees. Occasionally, a LUG will host an “install fest”, where they’ll help you put Linux on your machine.

Although, LUGs concentrate on Linux, anybody going into mobile development has to build on a good foundation. You’ll certainly get real-world exposure to the “back end” of IT going to a LUG meeting. There will be discussions about servers, desktops, applications, networking, various programming languages, operations, security, and software testing. Also, if you are an expert in some particular area, be sure to volunteer to give a talk or two. LUGs always have openings for speakers and are generally receptive to deep-tech presentations.

Also, don’t forget to participate in the “after meeting” meeting. It might be held at a local pub or BBQ joint. After ordering a frosty cold beverage, be ready to talk about online gaming, the latest scientific developments, or any number of geeky things.

Naturally, you can also learn about Linux on your own. That’s how most of the gurus did it. I use a light-weight version called Xubuntu. DistroWatch is a clearing house for dozens of versions of Linux.

Conferences

Conferences are a great way to not only pick up insight on the latest development tools and techniques, it’s also a great place to meet old (and new) friends who share your particular interests.

For example, AnDevCon is a big Android conference in Northern California offering 65+ courses this year. A quick scan of their agenda shows titles like “Building HTML5 Apps For Phone And Tablet”, “Automating Function Testing For Android Applications”, and “Android Fundamentals: What I Wish I Knew When I Started!”. There are also several half-day workshops, with titles like “Designing an App from Idea to Market” and “Mastering The Android Develop Tools”. You’ll find a list of upcoming conferences on the Dice Mobile Development Community Page.

Naturally, it’s hard to go to conferences without a job and no money.

If so, you can see if you can help with a conference in your area. Send a nice email to the conference organizer volunteering to man the press room or organize a speaker track. I’ve chaired several speaking committees this way. Look at the “about us” or press pages for conference organizer names and email addresses. No luck there? Try the bottom of the main conference page for contact info. Conferences always need help and if you are enthusiastic, have a gung-ho attitude, and hustle, it might be your ticket to meet the pros.

Make sure you post your thoughts on the Mobile Development Community boards.

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