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Finding community and a career in a new country

June 24th, 2020

When Henna Singh decided to move her family from India to Ireland so her husband could pursue his master’s degree, she was determined to meet the moment head-on. Not only did she dive into learning a new country and culture, but also she decided to take on a whole new career. “It was a time where I had no regulations,” she says. “I could do whatever I wanted.”

To her, the timing couldn’t have been better. She needed to find work in her new city of Dublin and saw that programming, with all its job openings, would be the perfect way to engage her passion for building and creating new things. There was only one catch: She first needed to learn how to code.

Seeking both personal and professional development in Dublin, Henna started searching for opportunities that allowed her to learn code with others in a classroom setting. That instinct helped her find a program to study Android offered by Udacity and Grow with Google. Henna applied, and heard back after a few weeks. She got a full scholarship.

As she started to attend more classes and meet more people, she noticed that many of her new friends belonged to different Google Developer Groups (GDG). These groups are independently run communities, guided by Google, that bring local developers with similar interests in technology together. So in the same spirit that led her to move from India to Ireland, a curious Henna immediately called the organizer of GDG Dublin, the Google Developer Group that was closest to her. After hearing Henna’s story on learning Android from scratch, the organizer invited Henna to give a talk about her journey to the group.

Henna started her presentation to an excited crowd but was struck by an overwhelming sense of stage fright. So the GDG Dublin community quickly sprung to action. Filled with Google mentors, experts, and local thought leaders, the group offered Henna advice from their own experience as public speakers. “They told me to slow down and take a breath. They told me I could do it,” Henna says. “I felt like I had such huge support. That moment helped me find my confidence moving forward.” She pushed ahead and nailed her presentation. She knew she found her developer family, and later helped the group organize events.

Empowered by the expertise and warm family support she received during her first talk, Henna realized that public speaking, even when it goes all wrong, is not that scary. She soon signed up to give a global talk at DevFest Dublin 2018, and then went on to seek out more leadership roles in her own local developer community.

All of these experiences, paired with the Google mentorship and technical education content she received, helped Henna eventually land a full-time role as a Technical Services Engineer. In her free time, she is also a Community Organizer for Google’s Women Techmakers, where she helps connect local companies to women in development. And, of course, she is still a dedicated member of her GDG Dublin family.

Want to join a Google Developer Group near you?  Learn more about how to get involved virtually or in person, on our website.