rstudio::conf

Hey everyone so it has been a month since 2019 has started and I have kept none of my resolutions thus far. But on a more positive note, I was able to go to rstudio:: conf which is a conference about R. R is an open source statistical language used mostly in academia and some parts of the corporate world. I’m going to briefly go over my motivation to attend and provide a short review of my experience at the conference.

I am currently a co-organizer of R-Ladies Chicago. Angela Li, the leader of our group, encouraged all of us to apply for a Diversity Scholarship to attend rstudio::conf. I would not have had the courage to apply had it not been for Angela nudging me. I’ve always felt like I was a data science imposter since I like doing both web development and data analytics. I’ve constantly run into people who believe that you can’t do both. People have also attempted to discourage me from doing either. Long story short, don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. Surround yourself with encouraging people. That’s why I started going to R-Ladies meetups. I was fortunate enough to find this niche in Chicago. Being a part of this community has resolved me of feeling like a data science imposter.

rstudio::conf was amazing and it left me inspired. There was a lot of diversity. I’m not talking about racial diversity because we have long strides to take for people in color in tech. It was diverse in terms of gender, areas of the industry (such as education, media, biology, etc.), and international attendance.

  1. Talks were gold. The conference talks were about 20 minutes long and focused on an overarching idea. I mostly attend talks about creating learning communities. One of these talks was from Jesse Mostipak. Jesse Mostipak talk was about her journey from being a middle school science teacher to a data scientist. It was proof that you don’t need to have a Statistics or Astrophysics Ph.D in order to be a part of this field. But you will need a lot of grit and a supportive community. Jesse learned data science by creating a learning community on Slack called R4DS.
  2. Closing keynote speaker delivered an inspiring talk about contributing to public work. The speaker talked about not only being consistent but being vulnerable while learning. Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by people (especially on social media) who place more emphasis on the end result rather than appreciate the journey.
  3. It was easy to get out of my comfort zone at the conference. I am an introvert and it’s difficult to be around so many people. Two pieces of advice I will offer to other introverts: everyone is uncomfortable, and it’s okay to take a break and recharge.
  4. Another piece of advice that was prompted by my time at the conference: practice your elevator speech before you go to a conference. I am currently looking for a job and when you are meeting new people, “What do you do?” is the number one question that arises. Don’t just say, “I’m looking for a job”. You are as a person is more than that. Speak on your interests and side projects. They foster conversation and relationships.
  5. I got to explore the city of Austin. After surviving the polar vortex this week I am considering moving there permanently. There were several after hour events for networking. I decided to take breaks and explore Austin. I’m glad I did — the food in Austin is fantastic!

I want to extend a special thanks to Anne Carome and Hadley Wickham for the opportunity. If you want to see the talks from the conference this year, visit: https://resources.rstudio.com/rstudio-conf-2019