Despite the overall job situation nowadays, for a Drupal developer/designer, things look pretty good. There are way more drupal jobs and contracts than the local talent can fill. Way more.
For quite some time, I've been discussing with the other folks in the Austin Drupal community how to bring more beginners up to speed, and how to help the intermediate level folks become drupal ninjas.
While there are a tremendous amount of resources for those wanting to learn Drupal, it's important to connect and share experiences with other drupalfolk. Previously, the only regular opportunities for Drupalistas to meet up have been the monthly meetups.
This last week, myself and a few others in the community, launched the Austin Drupal Dojo. Call it a hack night or whatever, this is a weekly opportunity to get together with other folks in the Austin Drupal community. No agenda. No speakers. Bring your problems, bring your solutions, bring your laptop.
The word Dojo (道場) captures what we're trying to create -- a place to practice and master one's art. Thing of it as a place to become a Drupal blackbelt, a Drupal Ninja.
I should say that we're not the first in town to do this. Matt Buck launched the Ruby Dojo last November, and there has been a virtual Drupal Dojo at groups.drupal.org for quite some time. Although he doesn't use the word "dojo", Jim Hillhouse has been hosting the weekly Cocoa Coder meetings Conjunctured for over a year now.
If you're looking to ramp your skills up quickly, meeting weekly makes a difference.
Our first meeting last week at Mangia was a great success. So much so that we've reserved dates for the next 8 weeks. Tentatively, the dojo will be held at either Mangia (Spicewood and Mesa) or Triumph Cafe. Both venues are centrally located near Spicewood/Anderson and Mopac.
Here are the tentative dates for the upcoming dojos: