From electronics to self-teaching to running a ReactJS community in Bangalore
Kiran Abburi’s journey with open source, React and involvement with the community.
After completing his education in Microelectronics and VLSI Design, Kiran Abburi, started his career as a design engineer at Analog Devices. After a few years, Abburi decided to quit to do something on his own. Since working on VLSI involves large monetary investments, Abburi decided to switch to software development.
In this post, Kiran Abburi narrates his journey with software, how he dabbled with React and eventually went on to run the first ReactJS meetup group in Bangalore. Kiran Abburi is a very active contributor to the ReactFoo community, both as a speaker and as a mentor. Recently, he has started funneling speakers from his meetup group to conferences such as ReactFoo. Abburi’s advice to first-time speakers: share your work at meetups and get feedback. Use this as a pathway to speaking at conferences. We are certain that Kashish Grover, from the React Native community, will concur on this one!
Discovering software industry and open source
Coming from the electronics industry which mostly relies on proprietary tools, software industry felt like a whole new world. I was amazed by open source software, and the communities built around it.
I knew the fundamentals of programming when I quit my job. But I leveraged documentation, resources and communities around open source and began to teach myself web development.
I first started learning Python following Django, databases, security, AWS and DevOps. I used to pick up a topic, explore it for few months, and then move on to the next topic. After gaining knowledge on backend technologies for web development, I moved to front-end. I started with learning jQuery followed by Ember and Angular.
Two years passed like this. On some days, I used to watch tutorial after tutorial on YouTube for entire days. I was happy with the breadth of knowledge I was gaining, but I didn’t have much to show. So, I decided to do something different.
I came across React in November 2014. I watched React talks delivered by the likes of Pete Hunt. React was still in its early stages at that time but it was gaining momentum rapidly. I realised that there are lot opportunities to contribute to React.
I started Open source projects like react-slick and react-foundation-apps. The react-slick library became popular; it has been downloaded over 10 million times till date. While I was interacting with the React Open source community, I came across meetup.com. I searched for React meetup groups in Bangalore and didn’t find any. Hence I started Reactjs Bangalore meetup in January 2015.
Running Reactjs Bangalore
Starting the Reactjs Bangalore meetup group was one of the best decisions in my life. In the initial days, I didn’t know anyone from among Bangalore software companies to host physical events. I therefore hosted the first set of meetups via Google Hangouts.
I spoke about what I was learning back then, in these meetups. Some of the people who attended these online meetups spoke to their managers and offered physical space to host the meetups in their company premises.
We then started hosting React meetups at different companies. Also, people from different companies started speaking at these meetups and were sharing their knowledge.
The Reactjs Bangalore meetup group is growing consistently. This group has over 8,000 members. We have organized more than 50 events; some events have had more than 200 participants. The connections I make at these meetups are priceless. Being active in the React community also helped my freelancing career. I started freelance work with connections I made at the meetups.
How I started my speaking career?
I am always on lookout for increasing my reach. I found that conferences are a platform for connecting with developers outside Bangalore. I came to know about HasGeek conferences as a result of the meetup collaboration. I attended JSFoo and liked the conference. As an audience member, I felt inspired to speak at subsequent editions. I therefore started with proposing talks to HasGeek conferences.
I proposed my first talk for ReactFoo Hyderabad. This was a last-minute submission. My talk was not selected. Instead, I was invited to lead a Birds of Feather (BOF) session on React Native. BOF sessions are really fun. A group of facilitators decide on the agenda for the BOF; audience shares their experiences, ask questions, and speak freely on the topic of the BOF session. These sessions are interactive. We learn a lot from each other.
I proposed to speak for ReactFoo Mumbai and ReactFoo Delhi editions. My talks were accepted. I learned a lot while researching and preparing for talk. I also met lot of good developers at these conferences.
Becoming a reviewer
I started reviewing JSFoo and ReactFoo talk proposals in 2018 and participated in pre-event rehearsals held for other speakers. From a speaker’s perspective, rehearsals are useful to get critical feedback and improve the structure and flow of the talk before actual delivery. I am continuously improving my speaking skills based on feedback from other reviewers at these rehearsals.
Contribute to open source; speak at conferences
Many a times, people ask me how to build their careers. Contributing to open-source and speaking at conferences and meetups definitely helps in career building. As a speaker, you get recognition in the community, and the audience gets to learn from the first-hand experience of speakers.
Finally, my advice for people who want to give their first talk. When you find something interesting to talk about, submit a proposal. If you are scared to speak at conference or if your talk is not accepted by conferences, propose a talk for meetups. Meetups are much more informal than conferences. Also, the chances of your talk getting accepted for a meetup are much higher. After giving a couple of talks at meetups and gaining confidence, you can start proposing talks for conferences. You can also link to your previous meetup talks in your conference abstract. This gives confidence to conference organisers about your past speaking experience, and increases your chances of acceptance for a conference.
Submitting a proposal to speak at a HasGeek conference is also an opportunity to get feedback on your work. We review all submissions with the help of past speakers and active community members. If you are working on something you’d like to share with the community, consider submitting a proposal for any of our upcoming events listed here: https://hasgeek.com/