Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Conferences, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
- I would not be where I am today without other people teaching me what they know and so for me, personally, paying it forward is very much a part of my core values. That's part of my mission is to teach people what I know, to pass it on 'cause if I hold on to it, what's the point? It's kind of, it kind of dies with me at that point. For me, speaking at events, doing lectures, that is a big part of my long-term strategy. Marketing is a process and so it's still in the process of being implemented.
- A lot of local conferences are very low cost. For example, if you do WordPress, there's word camps in a lot of major cities. You can usually go to them for lik $50 or something like that which that's not a big investment and so if you go, if it's not all great, that's fine. It's a lot better than spending thousands of dollars on a conference and not liking it. So take the opportunity when you can to go to local conferences on weekends or meetups in the evening. You're not having to spend that big investment and not sure what you're getting out of it.
It doesn't necessarily need to be focused on exactly what you do. There's a lot of conferences that are broader. They talk about development and design and maybe they also have sessions on the business of design and different things like that and you can kinda delve into different areas and learn different things by attending these conferences that are more varied and if you don't have the opportunity to go to conferences like your work won't pay for it, you live far away from everything, just take advantage of what you can find online. All the conferences that record their talks put them online.
You don't get the same experience because you don't get to go out there and meet all the people but you can still use that as an opportunity to learn about different things. - So sometimes we can think about going to a conference and it's just the idea, well, I'm going here to learn something. I'm going to sit here, take some notes, learn something from this speaker. It's gonna inspire me. I'm gonna go back and be able to do a great job and certainly that's a part of going to a conference but a lot of what I found, I've learned, has been talking to other delegates at the conference. Sitting there at lunchtimes, walking through the exhibit hall and talking to people and a lot of times you come across things that you may not have considered or thought of.
I had it recently at a conference that I was at where I talked to someone and then I talked to another person and another person and they all had a similar story about where they were at as a company and trying to get automation going and it was an insight to me to realize hey, there's a lot of companies that are maybe at a difference place than my company's at and realize there's people that are struggling with things that are similar to me but there's also people that are struggling with things that are quite different in this way too and just to be able to see that there's a lot of variation in the way that things happen even where there is similarity, it was an eye opening thing for me and it was a great way to make some connections to other people as well where I might be able to help them out with some stuff being further on the path than they were or they might be able to give me some insights 'cause they were at a different stage that I might get to eventually as well.
- Keeping your skills sharp is a challenge when there's so many shiny new technologies and things that you wanna learn. So for me, I'm sort of a just in time knowledge person so I don't go learn everything that there is to learn about something. I wait until I actually need to use that in a project say and then go figure out whatever it is that I need to learn to be able to do that. On the other side, I do wanna have some exposure to all of those things that I'm not busy learning so that I at least know what they are and have some awareness of sort of what's in the landscape and the best way I found to do that is to go to conferences, go to industry conferences, hear other people talk about their topics and then see what sounds interesting to me.
- So I've been giving talks at developer centric conferences since 2004. Up way over 100 talks given. I think networking and getting involved with your peers is the key to turning programming from a job which a lot of people do and I got no problem with it. You're using your job to fund the life you want to do outside of work but I really feel that if you want to move from programming as a job to programming as a career, you need to connect with your peers and speaking and attending conferences is a great way to build up that network of peers so that when you're looking for new work opportunities or you're trying to solve a problem, you already have a group of people who are open to communicating with you and open to helping you solve problems.
Any time I have a problem, I know I can go online and talk to my network and somebody somewhere has run across this problem and has a solution for me.