As IT community grows every year it is natural that supporting events like conferences, user group or hackathons will appear more often. Developers are attracted by free food and drinks, top speakers or new devices to test.
What to choose?
At some point, there are so many events that they overlap. Choosing the right date for organizers can be a tough decision because a competitor in the neighbourhood can steal attendees :)
But what is there for us - software engineers seek fresh knowledge. We want to spend time in the best possible way. We want to show up in the best places.
I have this problem quite often. I attend conferences as a participant and speaker. My experience is not that big as for example Tobiasz Koprowski KoprowskiT or Basia Fusińska basiafusinska (they are astonishing conference junkies :) I’m getting there: P ), but I was able to recognize few conference types. Here they are:
- Core conferences
- General development
- ”Low profile” conferences
- Company conferences
- Newbie conferences
- ”Go big” conferences
Let’s take each type one by one:
Each session is very interesting. Barely something is off-topic. That conference type is highly focused on a certain aspect in computer programming. For example cloud computing or microservices.
General development conferences
The magnitude of topics here. Soft-skills (talking to strangers, idea generators, saving the nature), AI and ML (How to teach the computer to play Pong), historical (how we did A or why language X was invented), inspirational (similar to TEDx talks). You may or may not like it. Good point is that you may by accident end up on a very interesting session :)
“Low profile” conferences
They are usually local conferences. Or niche conferences. You seldom hear about them. Often they are organized by local community and local speakers share the knowledge. It’s a good place to see a rising star :) Somebody with high potential, who didn’t enter the big world yet. On such conferences, the sessions are also interesting and unique (both positive and negative)
Everything has the organizer’s mark. Almost everything :) Here a lot depending on the organizer. Usually, such a conference is a company branding event. If you plan to join company X and they organize a conference you should attend it and talk to developers working there already. Those conferences can also invite top speakers. All depends on the budget and connections. Usually, I like them.
There is also room for newbie conferences. Young people or people jumping in the IT business should attend those. Sessions focus on “your career in IT” or “How to choose the right employer”. Basic technical concepts are also covered.
”Go Big” conferences
I call them marathons. 3 days, 10 streams. Everything in one place. Agile, SQL, security, IoT, languages, DevOps and other buzz-words are there. The agenda will probably include all topics from [Google Trends]() :) Some people need a day-off later on.
One other important thing is all that what happens apart of sessions. For some of us (should be for all), discussions with other attendees are also valuable. Sharing thoughts, ideas, histories. This is very important. It keeps you in connection with the community. Some developers do socialize, others don’t, but all are atoms in the same IT environment. Inventing killer algorithm and keeping it on disk only is not the way to go :)
So what type should I attend?!
Now you should know what conference type you should target. Still not sure? Choose a conference where is a speaker that you want to take a photo with. I call it “photo with superstar effect”. It may be worth to go there just to listen to that single person and take a photo with him/her :)’