How can a conference help someone?

Szabolcs Toth
3 min readJul 29, 2015

We organized JSConf Budapest this year, our first event in this scale, something that we’ve never done before — we were super anxious about everything, just not to mess the whole thing up. The little sentence that constantly nagged our mind was:

What can we do more?

While we wanted to create a great event in the region, we also wanted to educate the community on the importance of diversity.

We’ve set up a Diversity Sponsorship program, which was strongly inspired by .concat(), and we’ve got lots of help and advice from Karolina and Anika.

Diversity Sponsorship

Diversity sponsors helped us to set up a fund, that has covered the conference entry to 11 people. But we felt that deciding who would get these free tickets, should not be decided by us — organizers.

We’ve approached several individuals who are actively participating in diversity related programs, to form a jury, and award those candidates they find eligible. More details on this program can be found here.

The outcome?

We received a letter several weeks later —a story about one of our attendees, who had the opportunity to receive Diversity Sponsorship and could come to Budapest for the event. For privacy reasons we’ll withhold the name and any personal details of this person.

This attendee was looking for a job in the tech industry without any luck, could not even get an internship. As a self-taught developer, it’s really hard to get a job, especially if you’re from another country.

Spent 3 years doing a cleaner’s job during the day and studying in the evenings at an IT school, and then, filled out our application form for the Diversity Sponsorship program.

After being awarded one of the tickets, immediately updated the cv, telling the companies about JSConf Budapest, and the things that may be learned here — and several companies got interested.

But there is no such thing, as risk-free investment.

I can’t stop thinking that how that diversity ticket was a change maker for me. For example, I couldn’t get my boss to sign my leave days request, so I quit the cleaning job, only because of the JSConf, and that was also an important step to get a much better paid, programming job….

I love what you are doing for diversity, and please keep on. I’ll definitely buy a diversity ticket for next JSConf, to just keep the game going on my side as well :)

By the time we received the letter, this new coder started a new job at a tech company, as a developer.

First, actually we were just happy: this was the best outcome we could hope for, isn’t it?

But later, we realized:

we actually changed someone’s life — for good

It’s hard to describe that feeling: something like feeling responsibility and awe, mixed with enthusiasm and relief.

What’s next

This change was one of 11, that we know of. Imagine how many can be achieved by other diversity and scholarship programs out there, with more effort. Like the one JSConf EU does for 60 people!

Not only conferences drive changes. By putting effort in communities being inclusive, organizing meetups that are welcoming, encouraging participation for everyone and learning from each other — things like these will lead to such life changing events.

All that work, that we put in our event, in 4 months?

Totally worth it.

Let’s do it again!



Szabolcs Toth

Senior Frontend Engineer at @Ustream • Curator of @jsconfbp • Hobby photog and strobist enthusiast • Geek