Inside the IBM Developer Advocate: Meetups, conferences, workshops, oh my

As an IBM Developer Advocate, one must keep up with technology. As a developer, this is already a challenging task with so many conferences and meetups vying for our attention. In the just one day, for example, I heard: Blockchain, Kubernetes, Containers, Cloud Foundry and more. Did I win the Bingo game yet?

As an developer advocate, we keep up with the newest buzzwords and follow what’s coming down the technology pipeline. What’s coming next? That’s for another post.

So how does one learn and keep up at this pace? There are many ways to learn about these technologies. I usually spend my commute and downtime reading online resources which talk about different ways pieces are put together, what are the benefits of one technology over another, and why one might choose to adopt a technology. I might not use the knowledge right away, but it can help me solve a different type of problem.

Meetups in the Bay Area are a great place to learn. Not only do you get an unlimited supply of pizza to feed a hungry stomach, the endless supply of meetups talk about a ton of different things. And you can meet new friends with the same interests you may have, which just so happens also helps to expand your network.

Pizza is common, but sometimes meetups have better options

Conferences require a bigger commitment, but can offer a ton of sessions packed with content. Aside from the marketing that companies might push too heavily, the technical sessions can be a gold mine. Sometimes, a session will dive into how one builds with a specific technology. Or the lessons learned. Or what decisions and the reasons they were made along the journey.

Workshops are also a great place to learn about a technology and then get your hands dirty. I’ve always said that a developer needs to get hands-on, it’s not a passive sport. Often people learn better when they are engaged and actually follow the steps, rather than being a passive observer. Don’t forget your laptop so you can get hands-on!

I still remember my first hardware workshop that I attended just a couple of years ago. I entered the room, unsure and with trepidation, wondering if this too would end up like the previous experiences that ended with broken hardware after I got the wrong wires crossed.

But getting hands-on experience and being led through basic exercises, I realized it wasn’t hard and then realized the endless possibilities I could pursue.

Being in the technology industry can be tricky at times, but if you harness the community of meetups, conferences, and workshops, you can take your learning to the next level and beyond. And the best part, there are plenty of free events if you like your cheap entertainment.

Oh, and if you don’t know anything about a certain technology, I encourage you to attend a conference, meetup or workshop and bring with you an open mind. Sometimes we don’t have a direct connection to a technology, but it might be useful later on.

My hunger is calling. It’s time for another meetup.

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