Code on the Beach
My employer was very kind and sent my whole team to Jacksonville, FL for this event. One of the neat thing about this event is that is fairly small number of attendees. There were less than 300 or so people present. The speakers were awesome with surprising number of them who speak on a national level. Just to name a few I got to see Scott Hunter, Jon Galloway, Jeff Fritz, Kathleen Dollard, Stacey Mulcahy and David Neal.
I have not been to a ton of conferences, but Code on the Beach had the best schedule I have seen by far. There were four sessions to choose from in each time slot and the number of time slots didn’t exceed six. For me this was great as it didn’t overload me with choices. There was also couple hour break in the middle of the day for lunch and a little beach time. The break really help give my brain a rest and made it easier to stay engaged for the afternoon sessions.
If you can work it out I highly recommend getting your whole team out of town for a conference. I feel like the team getting to spend time with each other outside of our normal environments was a huge benefit. The team building aspects this trip were well worth the cost.
Music City Code
This year was Music City Code’s (MCC) second year and it takes place in my home area of Nashville, TN. The event has expanded a lot since last year going from a single day event to three days and from 250 attendees to 500. Since this event is only in its second year I was expecting to see mostly speakers from the areas around Nashville, but the speaker pool was much more diverse than I was expecting. Some of the people I got to see speak include Christina Aldan, Heather Wilde, David Neal, Jeremy Clark, Joel Tosi, Paul Jones, and Scott Drake.
MCC had a schedule more like I was used to with a lot of choices per time slot. The downside of that of course is that a lot of times I wanted to be in multiple places at once. One of the really neat things about this conference is during lunch they have a band playing and want attendees to get on stage and play or sing with the band.
This was something I choose to attend myself and only one other person from my company was there. Since I was not there with a team I met more people than I would have otherwise. I know above I recommend going to a conference with your teams, but I am also going to recommend going to a conference without your team in order to get to know people you wouldn’t be interacting with if you were surrounded by your teammates.
Conferences have tons of positives. Leaning about new technology is a lot of peoples top reason for attending and it is a great benefit, but not the top one in my option. For me the best part is the interactions with my teammates and people from the broader community. Not only does the interactions with people open the door to new friendships, but it also means getting to hear about the gritty parts of actual implementations of different technology. That is not to say that speakers only tell you about the good parts, but talks have time restrictions and don’t leave enough time to cover all the potholes a particular technology has.
As great as both conferences were I am happy to have a weekend back with my family. Two weekends away from them was hard. I am not used to travelling which that added to my exhaustion. I have more empathy for how much of a challenge it is for people who are required to travel a lot.
I am going to end this post with an open thank you to conference organizers, speakers, volunteers and attendees. Without every ones time and effort great events like Code on the Beach and Music City Code would not happen.