Yo yo! For the past few days I’ve been attending DevRelCon Prague 2022, it was my first time speaking at an international conference. Welcome to this mini-recap!
Quick caveat, I’ve not left the country in over a decade and the last time I did I was at an age where I needed to be chaperoned, had no decision about where I went, and have no clear memories about it except stealing a blanket from the plane.
Regardless, things written in articles aren’t admissible in court, probably. Now let’s get on with the show!
Parts That Were Awesome!
The bit where the plane bursts through the clouds
I know ‘seasoned’ travellers may say riding an airplane is boring. Which, you know, fair. There’s a lot of waiting when traveling. In the airport, on the plane, in the other airport and all the other bits.
However, I had a window seat and it was a very cloudy day. After the plane had taken off and hit the cloud layer, it was like trying to stare through a thick fog, then boom!
A sea of clouds appeared. I don’t know if I could tire of that part of the experience. There’s a certain romantic element to the idea of flying and it made me wonder about the dreams of those in history who would ask what was beyond the clouds and here I was seeing it.
Though, I suppose the actual dream would be to fly freely without the aid of a machine. To feel the rush of the wind, the cold of the clouds and without the fear of falling to your death. Alas, this is close enough.
Monday was exploration day. I walked around for about 5 hours. But look, I’m not an architecture buff. The building’s look pretty and colourful. They had trams, I’ve not been on a tram, so I went on a tram, now I’ve been on the tram. There was a Starbucks near a castle, and I unfortunately couldn’t find any fudge at the Christmas markets. Oh yea and their subways are a lot roomier than the ones in London and had a countdown, in seconds, to when the train was going to arrive.
The Supportiveness of the Community and The Event
I didn’t know anybody before going there, but that didn’t stop people from trying to get to know me. It felt that I could easily join conversations and with my nervousness about speaking; I got a lot of good and actionable advice.
My nervousness will probably never go away, but I could tell my talk was going to be in excellent hands regardless of how I delivered it.
It’s clear that a lot of thoughtfulness goes into the management of the event and how the organizers have built the community and I'll likely share some of these ideas with London Gophers.
Here’s a fun list of people to check out and who helped me out over the past couple days, apologies if I’ve missed you. Note: I’m not sure which socials to use, so I’ll be linking the ones I have.
- Afzaal Ahman Zeeshan
- Amy Mbaegbu (Twitter)
- Brandon West (Twitter)
- Ben Greenberg (Twitter)
- Carla Sofia (Twitter)
- Cat McGee (Twitter)
- Daniel Bryant (Twitter)
- Don Goodman-Wilson (Mastodon)
- Emma Saroyan
- Floor Drees (Twitter)
- JP Haung (Twitter)
- Karin Wolok (Twitter)
- Kevin Lewis (Twitter, Mastodon)
- Manuela Maranhāo
- Matthew Revell (Twitter)
- Nancy Chauhan (Twitter)
- Rebecca Marshburn (Twitter)
I Enjoyed Giving My Talk
This was the book-end to something that had started way back in July 2022. Here’s some hidden lore: The reason I was talking to my friend about interviews in the first place is because I was having a hard-think about transitioning to Developer Relations.
That conversation led to this article, which I wrote a month into being unemployed after quitting my former job to pursue Developer Advocacy full time. Which led to me submitting to DevRelCon without ever having a job in DevRel.
I believe my thoughts at the time were, not only would it allow me to increase the spread of the article’s message (as I had around 10? followers around that time), but I’d also be able to talk to others within the DevRel community to understand if I could get a job with the experience I had.
Funnily enough, I ended up being hired at JetBrains around 3 weeks before the conference started. This meant that I was now representing my company and talking about a topic that has a lot of varying opinions.
So yea, I got nervous. I was still functional, but I couldn’t eat, sleep or focus very well the entire time I was in Prague.
I think it was because it was an audience of my future peers and those who have been doing DevRel a fair bit longer than I have. Plus, there were many people in the room who had done a lot of work toward Diversity and Inclusion to help get it to where it is today.
Conversely, as mentioned in the talk, I hadn’t really put that much thought into Diversity and Inclusion or spoken about it publicly. I was choosing to live my life with the cards life had given me. The world would change around me and I would adapt as required. However, in reference to my article and the presentation, this talk was me attempting to stand up and show support.
When the crowd stood up and clapped at the end, it was definitely an emotive moment that resonated with me. Hopefully, some of what I said resonated with others and can help them along their journey. The same as how those who have shared their journeys with me, brought me to the point where I am now. And I hope in the future, I can stand with others more than I did before.
Thanks again for having me and for being such a lovely audience!
Parts That Were Not So Awesome!
My Social Media Game is Weak
It wasn’t until a few hours after I’d done my talk that I realized several people had tweeted about it. Then I realized I had done no live-tweeting or tooting about the entire event.
I’ve not yet trained the urge to post to social media, as I only joined this year (I figured in an advocacy role you needed it). I had an Instagram account, but that was for stand-up comedy and I only started that last year (I don’t use it anymore). However, I think over time I’ll probably get better at sharing the love and appreciation for those on stage to social media.
My Picture Game Is Hella Weak
I hardly took any pictures of Prague and the event itself. Considering London Gophers now has an average of 'a lot' of photos taken per event, I am disappointed in my 'hardly-any' photos taken over the past 4 days. Tsk Tsk.
I Didn’t Take My Advice When Answering Questions
I’m likely in my head about this, but when it came time for questions, I was asked two questions that I didn’t have any frame of reference for and the correct thing to do in that situation was to say “I don’t know”.
I literally did a talk two weeks ago where someone asked me about this very situation, and I gave that answer. Furthermore, an hour before I was due to go on stage, someone else gave me that advice. Yet, when staring down the barrel of my own ignorance towards what was asked of me I said “bet”.
I’ll get over my embarrassment towards this, but some lessons are better absorbed on the field and this was one of those times. If you don’t know, you don’t know and it’s ok to admit that.
That’s All Folks
Honestly, DevRelCon Prague 2022 was pretty amazing all round. Will I go again? Yes. Plus, I want to go over several of the recordings so I can properly absorb the information that was said during the conference.
From nailing your origin story, to lowering the bar for your users becoming advocates themselves, to using creative non-technical techniques to build your brand, there was a wealth of information and knowledge shared by industry professionals that were 100% worth listening to.
Thank you to all the organizers, the sponsors, the event staff, the audio crew, the speakers and all the attendees as well as anyone I've missed for making it a very memorable experience for me and everyone else who came along. See y’all eventually 👍🏾.