Chicago has long made a name for itself as the technical hub of the Midwest. From major corporations to bustling startups, Chicago is a diverse home for creators of all backgrounds. The tech industry in Chicago is booming. Innovation is taking place faster than ever before, and collaboration is at the forefront of the local tech scene. With so much taking place in Chicago, how can professionals take advantage of all the Windy City’s tech scene has to offer?
That’s where tech meetups and other professional organizations come in! With the help of some of Chicago’s most prominent tech meetups and gatherings, professionals across the industry are making lifelong connections and working to build their careers in unique ways. Bringing people together is the bread and butter of the tech industry, and no place knows this better than Chicago.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities in Chicago’s tech scene, we’ve got some important info for you! Check out this breakdown featuring the most prominent meetups and professional associations in Chicago.
Chicago’s Bustling Tech Scene
Chicago by Numbers
The tech industry in Chicago added 6,000 new jobs last year, and the average salary in the field is $82,000. And while the average salary is high, many local tech workers earn much more. There are over 166,000 techies in the city, giving Chicago the sixth-largest pool of technology workers in the country. Chicago has the same ranking for graduates, producing over 7,400 technology degrees in 2019.
Types of Meetup Groups
At this point, you’re probably wondering, how do I find an organization that fits my needs? The answer to that question lies amongst the response to another couple of questions. What do you want to learn? What do you hope to achieve when joining a group? Let’s break down the top things that you may gain from joining a tech organization.
Major Benefits of Joining a Tech Organization
1. Technical Experience
One significant benefit of attending a tech meetup is the number of things you’ll learn! From talks with industry professionals to coding challenges and more, these organizations incorporate the ideals of learning through collaboration. There are a variety of different ways to learn and grow through attending tech meetups.
Another primary reason that these groups formed was to facilitate networking events for professionals in the industry. Networking can sometimes be hard to do: tech meetups make it easier! When joining a professional organization, you’ll have access to a variety of networking opportunities to meet potential mentors and collaborators.
Staying motivated is one of the most essential things tech industry workers must do as they work to be the best they can be. Continually striving for perfection can be exhausting, and at times, it can be hard to stay motivated. Having an army of professionals, mentors, and friends behind you to keep you going is vital to your success. These motivators can be found through connecting with like-minded peers at tech meetup gatherings.
On the subject of peers, one of the best things that come out of going to tech meetups is the opportunity to make friends. As adults (especially ones who work a lot), it can be challenging to make new friends. Making friends that not only understand the craziness of the tech industry but live it themselves is a great thing! Many people who attend tech meetups end up bonding and making friends with other professionals throughout their time there.
Top Meetups and Professional Associations in Chicago
One of the most critical aspects of the tech industry is the community. Having a group of like-minded peers surrounding you is vital to your career success. Finding someone who can get you motivated and collaborate on projects with you is invaluable for your work in the industry. Seeing these friends may not always be easy; you need to know where to look. So, let’s dive into the top meetup organizations and professional associations in Chicago. For clarity, we’ve broken them down by significant professional associations and casual meetup organizations.
The Illinois Technology Association is determined to lift up local tech communities and bringing professionals together. Memberships are available for individuals and entire companies. Student discounts are also available! The association hosts a variety of meetups and galas throughout the year as well as regular industry talks and panels about things that affect the local tech community.
2. SIM Chicago
SIM Chicago provides a unique opportunity for members to interact with thought leaders throughout the Chicago tech scene. SIM Chicago regularly hosts events for members, including industry talks, socials, and philanthropic activities. Members must apply before being accepted. Yearly dues start at $195 and vary based on status in the industry and corporate association.
3. AITP Chicago
The Association of Information Technology Professionals is a worldwide organization that works to bring professionals together to network and collaborate. The Chicago chapter of this organization dedicates itself to helping professionals in the local community collaborate and innovate with each other. Annual dues are $40 per member.
Casual Meetup Organizations
Chicago Startup Community is one of the largest tech meetups in the city, with over 7,000 members. This group is perfect for anyone looking to network with and learn from Chicago entrepreneurs and tech-minded individuals. The group hosts a variety of talks and technical workshops.
Tech in Motion Chicago is another primary tech meetup in the city with over 8,000 members. The group is interactive and fun for technology enthusiasts of all backgrounds. The group prioritizes collaboration and networking and hosts several events and industry talks.
While not explicitly a tech group, the Happy People Social Club has over 6,000 members in the Chicago area. This group is a great place for professionals of all backgrounds to meet, collaborate, and make friends in a positive environment.
What’s the Takeaway?
Chicago is one of the most prominent tech capitals of the United States. From major corporations to startups and everything in between, the city is genuinely immersed in innovation at all levels. With so much change and growth across the city, we can only expect an additional influx of people to the area as demand for skilled workers continues to grow.
One thing readers can take away from this is the idea that it’s not always easy to make friends at work. If you’re an introvert, then it’s even harder. The tech scene is built around being social and networking. The industry is continually shifting, and you never know who you might know and where they might go!
The moral of the story is, it never hurts to get yourself out there! Network, make friends, find a mentor, and work hard to succeed. The saying “it takes a village” absolutely applies to the tech scene. As you continue to grow your network, you’ll see the power that collaboration and innovation have on the tech industry.