What the Tech Community in Nottingham means to me

Lex Lofthouse
Jun 12, 2019 · 4 min read
Completing my course at Project Function 📸 by Riz

In an attempt to start writing about my little world, I thought I’d start by talking about one of the things that I’ve slowly been feeling is a very important part of what I’ve been doing with myself over the past year or two. I’d like to talk about the Tech Community in Nottingham.

Until last year I used to work in a digital design agency as part of a close knit team of designers. Work used to feel like it’s own sealed off bubble to me. I’d started at that company straight out of university, and I stayed for over 7 years. My colleagues were really the only designers, developers and tech people that I knew and the way of working at that company was pretty much the only way I knew how — I never interacted with people from other companies or freelancers. This left me relatively closed off in terms of my design career, not really feeling like I was properly learning new skills, not experiencing different ways of working and not getting to hear different points of view from my peers. A few years back I was pretty desperate to feel like part of the scene in some small way, so I started searching for something, anything I could be a part of. Then I found Design Exchange Nottingham (DxN).


Events

Design Exchange Nottingham (DxN) is a free, monthly meetup where speakers are given a platform to talk to the digital design community about anything from UX to Front End Dev. It was perfect, and it was just what I was looking for. So I spoke to the design team at work about going, and so we did…

After a few months of going to DxN, I also heard about Tech Nottingham, so we started attending that one when we could — some of the developers even got involved too! However, I still found myself stuck in this bubble. The design team and developers that I worked with would always attend as our group, and in doing so we never really branched out and talked to anyone else there. This doesn’t mean to say I didn’t value the benefit of attending DxN and Tech Nottingham at all, the talks have always been amazing and I’d learned a hell of a lot… but there was something missing for me.


Flying Solo

It wasn’t until last year, when I started a new job, this time at a digital agency in the centre of Nottingham, that I really felt like I’d found my place in the tech community. I started attending these events on my own, and I found that such an easy way to start speaking to new people. I joined the Tech Nottingham Slack group, and I started to speak to even more people. I also started attending Women in Tech, which I find to be one of the most welcoming and wholesome groups in Nottingham. Before I knew it I was making friends… actual friends! 😅

Quick tip, if you’re at an event and you want to speak to new people, look for an empty seat within a group of people already there together (I mean, unless it’s taken… don’t do that). It frees you up to join in on a conversation when you want to, without the initial pressure of a one on one conversation. Plus you might make multiple friends, bonus! 👍


Opportunities

I still feel like a bit of a newbie in this scene, but it’s been opening up some great opportunities for me. Something I’ve been desperately trying to work on is my ability to speak in front of a crowd, and over the past few months I’ve done two lightning talks. A lightning talk is 5 minutes, in front of the crowd, speaking about whatever you like. The first was at Women in Tech in Nottingham. I went first 😱, and it was a really great experience, even if half of the things I wanted to say definitely didn’t come out of my mouth! The second was this week, at Women in Tech in Lincoln. I’d written the talk the night before… super prepared! 🤭
If you’d have asked me if I could have done that a year ago I’d have laughed in your face. Now, I’ve done two!

Another amazing thing that happened was meeting the lovely Rizwana Khan, who encouraged me to enrol in her awesome group of learners at Project Function. I learned how to tackle HTML, CSS and JavaScript (not an easy task for a designer!). I really enjoyed the time in this class and gained so much knowledge. This would never have happened if I hadn’t got involved with these groups and I’m really grateful to Riz for welcoming me in to Project Function (and also for letting me sit next to her at Tech Nottingham and Women in Tech! 😝).

I’m really looking forward to meeting more people at these events, and attending any more that may pop up in the future!

Oh yeah… also, I’ve signed up for a longer talk… at Tech Nottingham. Wish me luck! 😨


M E N T I O N E D

Design Exchange Nottingham

They are currently taking a break, but should hopefully be back later in the year.

Tech Nottingham

A wonderful event that brings the tech community together and showcases talks and workshops from speakers about anything tech.

Women in Tech

Organised by the Tech Nottingham group, a similar event but aimed at encouraging Women, Non-Binary and Gender Neutral into STEM.

Project Function

A learning platform that educates & encourage minorities to get involved in the tech industry.

Lex Lofthouse

Written by

Senior Designer at Nzime

More From Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade