Meher Bala joins Bridget Willard and Jen Miller to discuss the topic of Community Connections – WordPress at Home in India.
How did you get started in WordPress?
11 years and 4 months ago – Completed software development course, was introduced to WP and fell in love with it – very user friendly and good for non-technical people to get started
What’s it like being in the WordPress community in India?
It’s like having a very big, very diverse family, all over the country! Everyone gets together once a month for about 2 hours – and then chat/network after. 4,200 members!! 600 attendees at last WordCamp!
How are people working in India?
Most work for companies who run WordPress, developing themes, plugins and offering support. Some people have started working remote or freelance.
Why did you decide to volunteer at WordCamp Mumbai?
Started attending meetups by invitation and heard about WordCamps. Attended her very first in 2016 and chose to volunteer as well! Has not spoken yet, though a lot of friends are encouraging her! Helped handle the speaker selection at the last WordCamp and learned a lot about the process.
What’s different from the other tech community?
“In WordPress, people are more friendly.” My family wondered how I got so many friends in such a short amount of time!
Can you tell us a little about your experience as a young adult and women in tech? When I was younger I was dyslexic so didn’t really try very hard. Once I discovered computers and coding I became interested in learning all I could.
Is there a difference in the general tech vs the WordPress community in India? The people who work in tech aren’t really a community like WordPress is. WordPress is like family.
How did you first learn WordPress?
Started learning with searches on google and generally lots of researching!
How do you WordPress?
I am a WordPress Developer
Describe your typical workday. Describe your typical non-work day?
I’m a night owl! My day starts at 11 and ends at 2 or 3am! I start working on emails, checking out WordPress slack, both Mumbai and the main Slack! Getting the hang of it – there are SO many messages!
Do you know how your local Meetup got started?
Two guys (names?) started the meetup to get a community together around WordPress, started in local coffee shops, casual chat. More people started taking an interest and it has grown a lot!
Which WordCamp was your first and was it easy for you to go?
2016 – I was shy and hiding in the corner! But even at the registration desk people were so happy and friendly and smiling!
What does community and family mean to you?
Family is important – it is like the “backbone” – my family has supported me throughout! I was dyslexic. If my family was not there for me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Family was very supportive of involvement in meetup and WordCamp – started having so many friends and people to talk to!
What do you do besides WordPress with your time?
Loves cooking and making desserts, helps out her mom and spends a lot of time just chilling out with her friends.
What was it like growing up in India?
I was the youngest, so everyone pampered me! I always had people I could talk to or relate to where I grew up.
What advice do you have for women who WordPress?
Don’t be shy! I know it’s difficult when you don’t know anyone! We are not monsters, we’re here to help you! We want to learn from you – what you know, we may not know and vice versa. We need more women to be involved! Come to meetups / wordcamps. “Just show up!” There is so much to learn from people who are more experienced. Work is not the only place where you have friends – there is a community ready to welcome you!
Where are you meeting people in the WordPress community?
Facebook WordPress Group, on Twitter and Slack
Is there anything else you think we should know about you, your community or how you WordPress?
20-30% in the India community take on WordPress projects from the US
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Definitely staying in the WordPress community – I want to see 5000+ attendees at our WordCamps, I want to see the ‘madness’! Might want to start WP Women Developers group – want to see more women join in.