The experience of attending PyCon 2018

In the anticipation and excitement of going to my first PyCon, I did what probably many others did: See what the experiences were like of those who went to years prior, and what other tips they may have for a first timer, like myself.

Those tips were surely helpful, and ranged between not worrying about attending every talk, and to make sure you get out of your comfort zone as to make sure you meet new people. Both are very true. Every talk is quickly uploaded online, and making new connections are for sure the best part.
It’s funny how true the saying is, “That the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. We always may complain about our jobs due to its constraints, either with the technology itself, or from our users. Maybe we have a preconceived notion that somewhere out there is a place where there is no stupid mistakes made before your time, that is stuck in place, and that you now have to deal with, but the true is, it probably doesn’t exist.

My second night there, after a long day of great talks I found myself bundled with a bunch of Pythonistas heading out to dinner. I had no plans, and as I’ve said, the Python Community is made up of fantastic individuals, so I quickly was able to hang with a new crowd of guys. Little did I know, they were test engineers from Tesla of all places!

Here’s where I’m going with all this… What problems I faced at work, what problems I though only a small university or community college would experience, they faced too. This definitely falls in the category of unexpected! Wouldn’t Tesla, of all places follow the best practices, naming conventions, properly use the best tech, and organize itself in the best, most optimal way possible? Guess not.

So perhaps, the days of saying “What the hell our we even doing?” should be replaced with “Well, we’ll work through this. Since even Tesla struggles with what we would call stupid mistakes before our time and their chugging along”.

Another key part of this experience that I’d like to further develop on is the amazing, laid back attitude that everyone had that I met. The first day, when I just so happened to be eating lunch with Al Sweigart, author of Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, just was a super cool, casual lunch. I wouldn’t even have known it was him if another guy didn’t ask about his badge! It was super cool how we could share our favorite parts of the language with each other. Such a group that you can really relate to, is such an important feature of Python that is really worth further building upon.

Meeting Guido van Rosem was a great experience. It’s always cool to have the opportunity to meet people that really influence your life. It’s always cooler when they even meet your expectations of how chill they are. With Guido, another guy showed up to give him some homemade chocolate to which he accepted. Having someone like van Rosem, a guy you look up to and respect actually taking the time to hear how you’re using his language was such a warming experience.

So here’s to people who want to or are planning on attending next year:

1. Do it! Even better if you can get your expenses paid by your employer.

2. What they say is true. Don’t worry about attending every talk. Most are good, but the people you meet during or afterwards are often much more interesting.

3. Meet other people from other organizations and see how they use Python. Ask them what technology they use in general and how they face problems. You can learn a lot.

4. Do your best to run into our Benevolent Dictator For Life and talk to him about what you’re doing with Python. You won’t have a bad experience.