I have to be honest. In the past, I did not like going to conferences. I found them boring and not too productive. The main reason for all this dislike was the type of conference I used to go to. I started out my career in the academic world. I was in a computer science PhD program at Georgia Tech, and I can safely say that I did not find the conferences that I attended to be very helpful. I "dropped out" of grad school with a masters and then became a software engineer at Amazon. Amazon did not have a culture of sending developers to conferences, so again, I avoided them.
Fast forward to today. I recently finished giving four workshops at Forward JS and I'm actively looking for more conferences to attend and speak at. So why the change of heart?
Working in the tech education industry really changed my view on the value of attending conferences and public speaking in general. As a teacher, I'm in front of a group of people every day trying to get them to learn something new and hopefully to get excited about the topic as well. Speaking at a conference is actually quite similar.
After I got started, I found that there are a ton of advantages to attending:
Networking: All of the interactions I had at my most recent conference, ForwardJS, were positive and productive. In many cases, I made connections that could have direct impact on what we do at Rithm School. So whether you're looking to find a new job or just looking to grow your network for future opportunities, conferences are a great way to do it.
Continued Learning: At ForwardJS, I attended Max Firtman's talk about web performance. The talk began with the explicit goal of making you feel bad about yourself (assuming you're not doing one of the web performance techniques he discusses). I really enjoyed the talk and I felt a little bad about myself by the end as well. But, more importantly I was able to apply a ton of the examples in the talk to my daily programming work at Rithm.
Get Involved In A Community: Can't get enough React JS? Are you a brand new junior developer? Or maybe you are an experienced mobile app developer? No matter the community or interest, there is usually a conference that is designed just for you! It's always a great feeling to meet people working on the same technologies as you and facing the same problems.
I hope I've gotten you fired up about attending a conference soon. If you're wondering where to go, here are some great upcoming options. I hope to see you there: