You Got This 2019 Retrospective

It’s is almost a month since we ran the first You Got This — a conference aimed at juniors (developers, designers and other junior level tech folks) to discuss the non technical skills needed for a happy, healthy work life.

We ran it because topics around ‘soft skills’ are often missed out of tech conferences and it is important to highlight these experiences.

We just published the last bits of content from the conference online at 2019.yougotthis.io/highlights and this is our retrospective. We received feedback from our internal team, speakers, sponsors and attendees and hope to use this to ensure that YGT 2020 is even more successful.

What worked

  • Our attendees really were lovely. The vibe created as a result was incredible.
  • Our speaker selection happened through a blind review by an external (paid) panel. This was awesome, and led to a great and diverse set of speakers. Thank to My Kind Of for helping us with this.
  • The speaker’s talks were really good. You can watch them all on YouTube.
  • Having an MC really helped for both maintaining a nice flow between segments, and also to help when we needed to buy some time (more on this later). The MC (Mic Controller or Master of Ceremonies acts as a host in context of conferences).
  • We increased our target from 150 to 200 people, and got 195 through the doors — as a result there was minimal food wastage.
  • We awarded 97 scholarships including 8 full scholarships which covered travel, accommodation, childcare costs and a stipend. What’s more we were able to provide the funds to our scholarship recipients ahead of the conference so they could book and pay for travel in advance without worrying about waiting on reimbursements
  • The food itself was good and all vegan. We’re quite happy with how it was received.
  • Our venue was great. Well positioned, nice and bright. Naji, Community Manager at Monzo, was absolutely brilliant and made running the event in their space so much easier.
  • Having a dedicated Accessibility & Care team was also great, with clear and defined responsibilities. We worked with the My Kind Of team to make this happen.
  • In fact, the whole team was excellent. Super on-it (not that we expected anything less), proactive, and efficient.

What could we improve on

Inclusion programme

We awarded scholarships, and many recipients didn’t try to claim them until just a few days before the event, when we were at-capacity and we we unfortunately had to turn these folks away. Next year we plan to be more clear about the scholarship process in our communication to those that apply so that no one misses out if awarded a ticket.

Space

  • I think we pushed the venue to its limits in terms of headcount, and at lunch it felt a little cramped. For next year we will be considering bigger spaces that provide the same great feel of the Monzo offices.
  • Furniture could have been more comfortable. We’ve made a note to hire more comfortable chairs for next year.
  • The space was really nice, but there were a few bottlenecks which led to some long queues and crams at times. We noticed this on the day and aim to improve this next year when considering the layout of our venue.

Schedule

  • The day was really packed. While we had a break every 2 talks, we should have provided a small comfort break between each talk so people could stretch their legs. We could have had fewer talks, made it shorter and multi-streamed it (not keen on this as an organiser), or run it over 2 days.
  • Have a planned post-event party or social.

Misc

  • Some additional things we noted to improve: we paid our speakers but acknowledge for those coming in from out of the city we could provide more support in terms of logistics (hotels etc), we recognised the need for a dedicated AV engineer on the day to help with audio levels and lend support for any issues, we also made a note to make sure we collected our speakers slide decks on the day to prevent delays on the editing and release of the video coverage of the talks
  • We had planned to have name tags with pronouns visible for everyone at the conference — unfortunately the pouches we purchased for these let us down and so they couldn’t be used on the day — we are going to make sure that this doesn’t happen next year
  • We really liked the food that Leon provided but there was a delay in the food order being handed off which meant a delay for our attendees receiving lunch — next year we will have on site catering to avoid delivery issues.
  • Last but not least, we are aware that our messaging was a little lost in translation. Our idea of juniors was not age specific and more about providing an event for newcomers to roles in the tech industries — we know that some folks took this to mean “young people” and thought maybe this event would not be for them and we want to work on changing this perception for next year. We also hope to encourage those who manage juniors to come along…

Where do we go from here?

Well, we’re going to do it again! January 18 2020. This time we’re going to reframe it as a ‘conference for early-career developers and their team leaders’, as this better encapsulates the audience we want to target.

We’re hope to grow the event slightly, but not by much. 250–300 is a comfortable point. We’ve taken all the above points into account in nexts year’s planning and can’t wait to put on this event again in 2020.

Thanks for being so supportive of our first conference as Underland — it’s reminds us of why we’re so proud to be a part of this awesome community.

Love,

Kevin & Wilson (Team Underland)