There’s some question to the value of academic education within the tech field. Degrees aren’t exactly required if you have the clout, privilege, and silver tongue to demonstrate your skills without it. Many in the field have degrees from various disciplines that have nothing or little to do with tech in general.
I, however, did go to a traditional 4 year school to get my degree. I wouldn’t call my formal CS education all that useful to my career at large. What was useful was Burrito Saturday.
Burrito Saturday was almost every Saturday. We would get together in the afternoon grab some burritos and get to hacking all day long until half-price dinner at 11 or 12. Anyone was welcome to show up (since it was in the public Link-to-Learn [L2L] undergrad lounge).
We shared programming knowledge and hacked on code together (one time even mob programming a Haskell rogue-like on one of the school’s projectors). Sometimes it wasn’t so productive and we ended up just playing board games together rather than hacking on code. Yet still, just simply keeping in the habit of showing up every Saturday got me to interact with new languages, techniques, and technologies.
We reorganized all the computers in the lab so it was easier to pair program (not an easy feat since everything was strapped together with locks). We even cleaned the L2L when it was clear that no one else was doing it. That day we soaked all of the keys on the keyboards and scrubbed them all down with toothbrushes and even wiped down the scuffed and dirtied walls. Burrito Saturday was core to each of our programming educations and that core took place inside of a room that we loved and took care of.
Since we’ve all graduated Burrito Saturday doesn’t exist in the same extent as it used to. All of us busy with jobs and lives, but I still make time when I can to hack on something that I am passionate about. My alma mater is not really the university that I attended, but rather Burrito Saturday that took place within it’s walls - the university truly providing the necessary connection to other people who were just as passionate as myself.