I want to tell you about my first ever developer conference, which was View Source by Mozilla. This took place at the RSA in London.
The conference is primarily for designers and developers and the content largely concerns the web (rather than mobile apps for example). I was lucky enough to get a complimentary diversity ticket through codebar – thank you, Mozilla!
As my first conference I was really unsure what to expect. I read the agenda before and I could understand some of the topics but others were too technical for me. I was happy to get a complimentary ticket so it didn’t feel like a huge opportunity cost.
My first challenge was knowing what to write on my badge! I chose “aspiring developer”, as I didn’t feel confident enough to consider myself a developer given I haven’t made anything, but wanted other participants to know that this was my interest area. Funnily enough, a couple of professional developers I met later in the day told me that I needn’t have done that and that juniors are often too hard on themselves by giving them self the “junior” tag. I thought that was incredibly sweet and this was just one example of the kindness that I felt throughout the day!
It was ironic because I almost felt as if the conference had been designed for me, someone completely new to coding!
The first talk was about Code Newbie, the twitter chat, which I definitely plan on joining! It’s designed to create a warm and welcoming environment for people learning to code, especially those from underrepresented groups.
It was so nice to set the tone of the conference by listening to a founder who goes the extra mile to create safe, inclusive spaces for everyone to participate in tech. She talked of the lengths she had gone to in order to take onboard feedback and improve the accessibility of her product. It was truly inspiring and I think everyone found her talk incredibly engaging.
A number of the talks were given by women and people of colour. The MC, Sareh Heidari, wears a headscarf and is a developer at the BBC. Seeing them made me feel at home, welcomed and accepted. I felt that Mozilla had made a real effort to include underrepresented groups in both the speakers and participants. It made me feel loved and cherished, which is one of my main vibes from my whole experience of the developer community thus far.
I had some really inspiring moments during the conference which I will not forget in a while. The first lady I spoke to during the coffee break is a volunteer on Code First Girls courses. She was so incredibly kind and supportive. She gave me her contact details and encouraged me to get in touch with her for help. She also said that I should consider teaching myself rather than paying for a bootcamp which is something I am more open to now.
I met a 10yr old girl and her Mum who was teaching herself to code. She already knew loads of languages! I was so impressed and inspired by her and her mother! They had both made such an effort to be there. I was inspired by the girl for teaching herself at such a young age and I was inspired by her mother for caring so much for her daughter to see female role models in the industry she has a passion for, even though she’s not even in secondary school yet! I really hope I too can be such a dedicated mother.
My final story of sweetness and kindness was the Tech Lead, James, I met from apolitical who so kindly introduced me to his whole team and in particular a developer he had hired who was also self taught. I felt so happy to hear his story and his whole team were so encouraging. James repeatedly said he was hiring junior devs and that he prefers to hire passionate people who are willing to learn. I told him that there was no way I could apply for a job given I’m so early in my journey, but I felt that if I had been a little further along he would have supported me to make an application.
Overall I’m completely taken aback by all the lovely souls I’ve met today. I feel truly touched. I really can’t wait to attend more conferences, meetups and also hackathons.
I find the developer community to be such an open and kind one. Of course I haven’t been part of it long, but I’ve never experienced more people who are willing to support and help me along on my journey.
It’s so heart warming when you receive loving care and attention from strangers just keen to lend a hand. This community gives me hope for humanity and the world at large.
Thank you Mozilla!