I attended the WAD2019 congress in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, I was not particularly looking forward to it, as I usually do not enjoy the things that conferences involve - travelling (can we all just stay in one place, please?), forced conversations with people (networking), getting out of my comfort zone (love staying in bed, being lazy), etc.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised and it was really interesting. I got to learn from and meet a lot of cool people. In this post, I'll write about my experience and some of the key things I learned.
About the Congress
"You donno about… it? You donno it?" - Mr Eventuary
WAD organizes what it claims to be the world's largest developers congress annually. About 200 talks were given, and over 10,000 developers were in attendance.
There were talks and workshops on so many nerdy things including machine learning, software development, brain-computer interface, agile, product management, and so on. You can find the full program for the event here.
In no particular order, here are some things I learned from attending the Congress:
- Age isn't a factor in software development. Met many people of different ages that still mostly write code. Met a particularly interesting man who retired from his regular career, then went into tech cause he found it interesting. Rasmus also talked about how he has been writing code and maintaining PHP for the past 25 years. I think for this, software developers are really lucky. You can be a superstar at 19, or at 59, as long as you can write good code, no one really cares.
- People sabi the thing [people know their stuff]. Lots of people spoke on complicated topics and broke them down in super simple language that mostly kept me amazed. It was inspiring to see people devote time to mastering their craft, and being able to speak about it so easily.
- Networking at these things isn't horrible. Not sure if this is just because of the industry, but lots of people were very receptive to having genuine conversations. Sometimes not even about tech, but just talking to another human being. It was nice to see.
- There are lots of super cool tech products and tools. This was quite a realisation. I just found out about things like Instana, Ada, Pepper, and so on. The odds are that if you have some process you want to optimise, some tech company somewhere has worked on it, or are currently working on it. I think I'll spend more time on ProductHunt finding out about various products and how they can make my life better.
- There. Is. So. Much. To. Learn.
Recommendations for myself
For future conferences (or other events like these), I'm recommending these things to make my experience better:
- Be really aware of the conference agenda and spend time deciding the talks/workshops you want to attend. That said, also be open to experience things you might not have been interested in. Ask people about the talks they attended and why they did. This can help you decide to change your schedule if you need to.
- Write notes during the sessions - especially ideas you have for how the current talk could impact you, or if you plan to follow up with the person giving the talk. It's really easy to forget plans when a million things are happening on the same day.
- Have breakfast before you attend any session. Enough said.
- Take note of cool tools you see/hear about. There were some really nice tools I saw people use, which till now, I've been struggling to remember. I should have literally just created a list called "cool tools".
I generally enjoyed my time at the conference, and in Berlin. Hope to attend future ones and learn loads of more things. If you have any other questions about my experience or want to chat about yours, feel free to comment (or DM, or email).