This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Dev Workshop in Indy. It was only the second time I spent any time in Indy. The first was when I came to the Chiefs playoff game in 2006. Since it was the Chiefs and the Colts, it didn’t go in my favor (but at least it wasn’t that Chiefs/Colts game.)
I heard about the conference on a mailing list I’m on, and I thought “I’ve been wanting to expand the area I’ve done conferences in” so I emailed back and submitted some talks. I usually submit 3 or 4 talks in the hopes that 1 or 2 will be picked up, so I was quite shocked when I heard that they wanted me to give all three. I was there to speak, and speak I would.
I got in late Thursday night, in part because IL is under a constant state of construction and in part because I forgot IN is Eastern and didn’t plan on the time change. That was ok, I relaxed a little bit before I went to sleep so I could get over to the conference first thing in the morning.
One of the things that I noticed, and it made me quite happy, was the diversity of talks. There was a 2-part series on EmberJS, a 2-part series on Android development and a 3 part on iOS development. All 3 were live coding. After that there were 2 talks on resumes and one on finding your next job (mine). There was an amazing talk by @funkatron on mental health in the tech world. You should go check out his talks. Seriously. Every developer needs to watch this. And that was just day one.
I judge conferences in a couple ways. One, the variety of topics they cover. Not every conference needs to be a polyglot conference, those are my preferences, but even monoglot conferences can be really good, provided they cover a variety of topics on that single language. Dev Workshop had quite the variety. Another way that I judge conferences is the hall way conversations. I enjoy going to talks and listening to different topics, but I typically get more out of conversations going on outside of the talks than I do inside. Once again Dev Workshop had some good conversations going on.
One thing they did that I really liked, was instead of hitting the bars Friday night, they held a career fair. I hung out for a while. I’m not looking for a job, and I’m definitely not looking for one in Indianapolis (don’t read that the wrong way, I just love Omaha.) But it made sense. You have a lot of people who are passionate about software development (why else are they at a conference) you have recruiters and companies that need good developers. Where do you find good developers? At conferences. It will be interesting to hear if people landed interviews or jobs out of there, but it was a good time to hang out with developers and talk.
Finally, the organizers were super nice. They were bending over backwards to make sure that things were going smoothly and speakers were taken care of.
All in all, this conference, which is only in its second year, was 100% worth the 20 hour round trip I’m going to spend in the car. It’s exciting to see its potential as well, and hopefully it continues to grow in the coming years.