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General Discussion

Patrick Cooney
Patrick Cooney
12,216 Points

Are Conferences Worth Attending For Inexperienced Developers?

I'm hoping some of the more experienced people here will weigh in on this. If I'm lucky maybe Jim Hoskins or Jason Seifer or another teacher will wonder into this thread. I'd also be interested in hearing from others who aren't that experienced but have attended a conference and can give an opinion on what it was like for them.

Basically I'm worried about going to a conference and being in over my head. A specific example, RailsConf 2014 happens to be in my home city, I'd really like to go but I'm afraid I'll end up not understanding anything and looking like a fool to anyone I may end up talking to (and wasting my money should I not understand anything). Is there typically stuff for all levels at conferences like these or do you usually need a good base knowledge to get the most out of conferences? Not just RailsConf, but in general (I've been taking a look at UX/UI conferences as that is a topic I find very interesting).

5 Answers

I went to http://www.meetup.com/vancouver-ruby/events/131367352/ and got a tentative job offer out if it, knowing very little (in the scheme of things). I wouldn't say you should, I'd say it were essential if you want a career in Rails.

Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell
9,767 Points

I wouldn't worry about what I may not know going to something like but more about what I'll be exposed to.

Hearing new terms, seeing new things etc...I can then go home and Google it, YouTube it, buy a book. If you never expose yourself to stuff you've never heard of, you'll never hear about it and further your development.

Plus, networking is key in life. It's how you get to the top. It go back to my first point, if people don't know about you, then they're never going to look you up and learn about you.

You may be particularly charismatic or have learnt an extraordinary amount in a short period of time and a company will see that as an asset. Give him a task and he'll articulate well with other team members and if he doesn't know, he learns it in an instant.

If you're lucky enough to have a big conference just down the road from you, you'd be an idiot not to go. For me, in the UK, there's very few and when there are, they're hundreds of miles away and would require two nights in a hotel and three days away from work...not so affordable.

Dan Gorgone
Dan Gorgone
Treehouse Guest Teacher

To add to this, if you work for a company that will pay for you to go or reimburse your expenses (even some of them), it can be well worth it to learn new concepts, meet speakers and other professionals, and show your company/boss/group that you are motivated to improve your skills. Lots of great reasons to go.

Jason Seifer
STAFF
Jason Seifer
Treehouse Guest Teacher

I had great experiences going to conferences when I was new to Rails and Ruby. I learned a ton and also conferences are helpful for keeping your finger on the pulse of what is going on in the community. I attended Lone Star Ruby Conf in Austin recently and learned a ton there, too. If you can manage it, I'd say go!

Andrew Pritykin
Andrew Pritykin
6,574 Points

Patrick I am a firm believer of going to events for experienced and non experienced programmers. I feel its very important to be a part of a community. Almost 99% of the time many people will be more than happy to help a new developer get his/her feet wet in any development. Besides going to conferences, I learned a lot going to local hackathons. https://www.hackerleague.org/ is a great way to find local hackathons nearby. This is also a great opportunity to meet many top developers from big companies. Some companies I have met are Twitter, 4square, Amazon, Google, ect.

Patrick Cooney
Patrick Cooney
12,216 Points

Thanks for all the opinions and input, everyone. Some very good points were made. I think I'll take the chance and sign up for one or two of the conferences I found interesting. Thanks again everyone.