Like many others, I, too, received a renewal email from the AWS Community Team welcoming me back for another year as an AWS Community Builder.

The renewal made me reflect on my time in the program so far and on the upcoming year. I hit a bit of a lull in 2023 as my professional life became busier, but I was still able to participate in a lot.

Here are some things I did and want to do more of.

✅ NDA Sessions

I've been fortunate enough to always work for an organization that's had an enterprise contract. As I've written about before, one of the perks of an enterprise agreement is exposure to upcoming launches and features under a non-disclosure agreement. The Community Builder NDAs are a little different. Where my account team would target our team based on interests, projects, or usage, the sessions put together by Jason and the team have a much wider breadth. From early previews of Pi Day to re:Invent spoilers we get a sneak peek at many cool things. Beyond the tech topics, the Community team put a lot of thought into other topics, such as how to best generate video content or talks from Jeff Barr on how to write great technical articles.

I didn't attend as many as I wanted to in 2023, but I plan to prioritize more of these this year. Not only is it cool to learn about new things, but it's also great to connect with AWS staff and other members of the community about things we're all excited and passionate about.

✅ The New Voices Program

Mark Pergola, Meridith Grundei, and dozens of coaches from around the world dedicated hours of time in the spring of 2024 to teaching hundreds of people (myself included!) to speak better. The sessions were rich in practical experience and guidance from folks who had spoken at conferences and in front of hundreds or more people. Over the course of several weeks, we learned to craft a scalable talk and practiced with our peers and coaches. The program culminated with the graduation requirement: Speaking publicly!

I recently completed my talk, spending over an hour discussing AWS Security at the Northern Colorado AWS Meetup group. It went great, and I wouldn't have been nearly successful without the guidance of Mark, Meridith, and the many people who gave feedback and advice.

➕ Worrying About Perfection

I didn't write as much as I wanted in 2023. Some of that was my schedule, but a lot of times, I wasn't happy with drafts or even brief concepts that I wanted to write about, so I ended up just not writing.

The funny thing is that I know the solution: Just write. I advocate for this approach with many things professionally, but taking my own advice is challenging for some reason.

In 2023, I had hoped for 2-3 monthly blogs and high activity on Twitter and LinkedIn. This year, I'm aiming for something a little more manageable: 1 blog per month. I want the social media activity to happen organically. Given my interests and topic ideas, 1 per month is accomplishable, at least I think so.

➕ Hackathon Participation

Early last year, I joined my first hackathon: Building on Amplify. It was a lot of fun. I want to do at least one this next year, ideally with some community members. There's typically some through the Community Builder program, but even if there isn't one this year, there are plenty of others through sites like Hashnode.

➕ More Open Source Contributions

In 2023, I contributed to a couple of open-source projects like Falco. This year, I want to double down on this. My employer encourages days of service and I see these contributions as a type of service.

In the same thread, I have an idea or two for some open-source tooling I want to develop and release. I think the AWS Community has the right composition to build some really cool things. My desire here is to start one of these and seek feedback or contributions from the community.

✅ re:Invent @ Home

Last year, I couldn't attend re:Invent in person. It was really disappointing, but between home and professional commitments, it just didn't line up. The Community team put together a great line-up of events for folks like me who couldn't attend but wanted that community feel. We got together for some exclusive events and discussions of announcements. We also watched a couple of the keynotes together. It wasn't the same as attending in person of course, but it was a significantly better experience than watching by myself.

❓ Would I Still Recommend The Community Program?

Of course! Putting the direct benefits of the program aside, it's really great to be a part of such a large community with a global perspective. I get to interact with people from all over the globe with all levels of experience. It presents opportunities to learn, mentor (or be mentored), collaborate, and more.