Last month, I gave a talk at TEK-X entitled "Open Source Your Career". Personally I think that a lot of the high fliers in this profession use their community activities as a boost to their professional development, and I know that this has been true for me too. So in my talk I told stories about situations I'd met in my professional life and how I'd either achieved or made new opportunities by building on skills and experience (and network) that I've come across in my community activities.
For example I said to my CTO, Ivo Jansch that I was giving this talk and he asked what it was about. I said that, in a nutshell, I didn't think Ibuildings would have trusted any of their developers to host the Dutch PHP Conference unless they'd seen that person hosting events elsewhere - as a volunteer co-host of PHPNW, I gained some experience doing this sort of thing. His response really brought home how true it is that getting out there can reap rewards in ways we don't expect - or in my case don't even recognise. He simply said "one reason you have the job you have now is the fact that you did an oracle podcast for zend once which I heard when I received your CV". It hadn't occurred to me that activities like that would have helped when I was changing jobs.
What I Need From You
I'm giving this talk again, at FrOSCon in Germany in August. It was a huge amount of fun to deliver last time but I'd really like to pull in more stories from other people to include in my talk. So ... have you ever got involved with something outside of your day job, only to realise later that it was a good career move? And would you let me tell your story?
Answers on a postcard, by email, or in the comments field below. Any and all input is very gratefully received :)