Skill Level Appropriate for all
- Well one of the things I tell people, especially people who are thinking about, at some point, either presenting at a conference or something else, is, first off, improve your writing chops. We've kind of gotten ourselves into this, you know, texting, emoji kind of thing, where we just send off these little, short blasts of things to our friends and people think that's writing, and that's not. Writing needs to be able to stand on its own, outside of any kind of context. You should be able to read a document that I wrote five years from now and it should still make sense, because the writing itself was self-contained.
I think that, especially in tech, we kind of go, "I don't need English because I'm a software engineer, "I'm not going to write any reports." And then you have to write an email and other people puzzle over your email for weeks, wondering what you really meant to say. Almost any kind of communication is going to begin with your ability to write. Even more so than your ability to speak, because if I can read my own writing to you, I can at least get the message across. Instead of just saying, hey boss, everything's great, write a quick little report about summarizing about what went on this quarter, this sprint and see if it makes sense to people.
Pass it to your mentor, let them read it first and see what they think. But I think communication skills are still critically important, whether you're an engineer or not. No matter how great of an engineer you are, if you are not able to tell people what a great engineer you are, in your own writing, they may not believe you. - Going to conferences is a really good way to meet and network with other people in the industry. And I strongly recommend that people do that as much as they can. Participating in open source projects, gives you an opportunity to work with some of the brightest people in the industry, on things that they're really passionate about.
It helps you also, in networking, so that when you go to try to find a job, you can say I know this person, I've worked with this person and get an excellent recommendation. - Conferences are actually meant to be this forum of many people out there to get to know each other and to share their thoughts and ideas. But a lot of times, I think we don't really understand that. Especially when we are beginning to go to these conferences. And in my case, when I was beginning as a student, more about somehow presenting my academic ideas and basically getting just a little bit of feedback mainly during my session and then I would spend the rest of the conference mostly by myself.
It took me a while to somehow realize that, that's really not the purpose of a conference. Whether it's an academic conference or whether it's more industry focused type of conference. - When you attend a conference, the first thing that you should definitely do is go ahead and talk to people about the work that you have done before. Now, this is not like boasting about your work, but this is just so that you know that there could be better ideas to do the same thing that you've already done before.
There are way more knowledgeable people around you, all the time. In a conference, especially, if there's a speaker who is way more knowledgeable than you and probably knows a topic way better than you, then it's necessary that you speak to that speaker because that way, you get to know what is lacking in you, what is something that you have to work more towards your perspective, so that you can build a better thing. So speaking is a must, that you definitely have to do. But not as an egotist, or not as somebody who is trying to boast about your work, but for the mere purpose of trying to go and looking at where I may have lacked in doing something.
That's very important. And listening to people, because that's what people don't do sometimes, so that's important. And collaborating, exchanging ideas, exchanging your experiences, sharing your past work experiences of how you have been dealing with that topic. I think that's a must.