Navigating My First Tech Conference

DevNexus happened a few days ago, it was my very first conference, and I definitely can’t wait to attend more.

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Before the Event

I signed up to go to DevNexus without even knowing what it was about. The only thing I knew was that it was a tech conference. Why wouldn’t I want to spend two days with people who enjoy the same thing I do? Anyway, because I had no idea what to expect, I went to the all-powerful interwebs and used Google to search for the schedule. Most of the topics listed were about Java, a language that is widely used but really does not fall under my current interests. So I made a list of the talks that had nothing to do with java. This list included Kafka, software architecture, Kubernetes, functional programming, javascript, mobile development, and a few others. Some of these talks happened during the same block, so I ended up ranking them. After ranking them, I had my schedule figured out. I knew what time each talk was and where I had to be.

I also talked to some people who attended last year. They gave me some tips, such as arriving early for free breakfast and taking an empty bookbag for all the free swag.

Lesson: Check out the conference schedule and speakers beforehand so you have a good idea of the talks you want to go to.

Day One

On my first day, I arrived early, walked through the doors, and walked up to the check-in booth, where they handed me a badge with my name on it and a t-shirt (the most important thing really). The convention center then became my utopia; the world was at my fingertips. As we all know, one can’t simply conquer the world on an empty stomach. I took the escalator down a floor, where they had laid out some parfaits, bagels, and fruit. As a developer, I am not going to pass on free food, so of course, I grabbed one of everything minus the bagel.

Now it was time to enjoy all the happenings at the conference. Do you remember that schedule I made? That did not work out as I planned (haha!), I did not stick to it whatsoever. I ended up going to an architect talk given by Simon Brown. He talked about what an architect does, what he should do, and how much involvement the architect should have in a project (spoiler: they should be involved in everything, including code).

Look At All The Swag

Lunch Time

After Simon’s talk, it was lunchtime. I knew I wanted to grab some swag before all the companies ran out of medium-sized t-shirts. I rushed to lunch which the wonderful people of DevNexus provided. I ate and went to do a round of swag grabbing. Companies which attended this conference were Heroku, RedHat, Statefarm, Slalom, and many more. Some companies were doing raffles (I never win these things, but hey, it was free stuff so why not).

After Lunch

After lunch, I continued my unplanned adventure. I went to talks about 12-factor apps, kubernetes, and react native (If you didn’t know, it is now under an MIT License).

Lesson: Arrive early for potential free breakfast and lots of swag. Also, it is ok to not follow your initial plan.

Day Two

In all honesty, I had no real interests in any of the talks which were to take place on day two, so I ended up conquering the world of DevNexus without a plan. I attended a talk about functional programming using javascript given by Jonathan Mills. He explained pure functions, curry functions, and why you should use the already built-in array functions such as map and reduce. This talk was then followed by a talk on unit testing javascript with jasmine and jest by James Bender.

Afterwards, I looked at the schedule once more and nothing seemed interesting. I was also very tired. I looked at the following block and saw that there was a talk on Google cloud. This was a good time for me to sit down and turn my brain off before walking into anything that had to do with Google. I found an empty table opened my laptop and watched an episode of New Girl. After finishing the episode, I headed to the last talk of the day, where I learned about Google Cloud Platform.

Lesson: Don’t feel like you have to go to absolutely everything, take breaks, drink water, walk around, talk to people.

DevNexus had an after party. You should always go to the after party — you never know who you will get to talk to.

Overall Lesson: Learn as much as you can while at a conference and go to talks which will spark your own curiousity.

Final Words

To the DevNexus staff and organizers: Thank you so much for making my first conference a great experience! I hope to attend in 2019.

To the speakers I mentioned: you are a talented bunch. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all the attendees — it was a pleasure learning from all of you.