Volunteering at a Developer Conference

and why you should do it!

This past weekend, I attended the 5th annual UtahJS Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. As an aspiring front-end developer currently focusing on React, this seemed like an amazing opportunity. About a month ago, I went online to look at tickets, and they were about $200! While those tickets were definitely worth that pricetag, my student budget disagreed. I sent an email to see if they needed volunteers, and — BOOM! — I was officially signed up for my first ever developer conference (for free!).

If you are ever on the fence about attending a conferece because of the cost, just ask to volunteer! Here’s what my 8am-5pm duties consisted of:

  • Ushering people into the room
  • Helping them find seats
  • Giving the speaker a 5-minute warning
  • Folding chairs & picking up trash at the end

Not too difficult, huh?


Still not convinced by free entry alone? Well here are some of the awesome benefits to attending a conference like this one.

Talent Everywhere

If you look at the lineup of speakers, there was a crazy amount of talented people doing innovative things all packed together in the same building. It’s pretty rare to see the major leaders of a community/technology all in the same place at once. Aaron Frost (principal engineer at DOMO) and Jamison Dance (co-host of JavaScript Jabber) are just a couple of the speakers I had the opportunity to see. Topics on soft and hard skills were plentiful.

Networking

Yes, even I hate this overused, tacky business term. However, being a volunteer led to lots of one-on-one time to meet and talk with speakers, event organizers, and other incredibly smart people. Do you want to meet some people that work at your dream company? Volunteer at a developer conference and introduce yourself.

Free Stuff!

Alright, so this shouldn’t be the only reason you volunteer, but it sure doesn’t hurt! I received two awesome shirts, some stickers, and a free lunch from the amazing Cupbop food truck.

All in all, the experience was a great one. I ended up a little bit smarter and with a collaboration invite into a GitHub project :)