This year, I attended RubyConf 2021 virtually. While the conference was happening in Denver, I was at home in Austin, tuning in via the RubyConf website and the Discord server.
I was a sponge, learning all that I could about the Ruby community, ecosystem, tooling, and more. I’m grateful that I could spend time growing my knowledge and getting inspired to learn even more Ruby.
One of the big reasons why I was able to attend RubyConf is that I won a ticket to attend virtually. I heard about the contest on Twitter, and through the Ruby Radar newsletter, I entered to win a free virtual ticket to the conference.
After winning, I decided to set some intentions around what I wanted to get out of RubyConf. I wanted to:
The best part of this conference experience was absorbing the content. As a virtual attendee, there weren’t as many sessions as there were for in-person attendees. Interactive workshops, for example, weren’t live-streamed.
This was kind of a bummer at first, but there was plenty of content for me to chew through during the three days of the conference. The talks, both the pre-recorded and the live-streamed ones, were fantastic.
Speakers came from different companies, all of whom used the same tool (Ruby) in unique ways. Watching the diversity of presenters expanded my understanding of how Ruby can be a medium for building amazing things.
Some talks were at my level - things I could easily understand and learn from. Others went a little over my head, and demonstrated just how far I can go in this field and in learning this language alone.
Acknowledging that I didn’t know how to write a method in Ruby one year ago, I felt a sense of pride that I could understand as much as I did. Simultaneously, I felt the distance between myself and the mid-senior level developers attending the conference. That distance didn’t imply inadequacy on my part — rather, it motivates me to reach that level.
During the conference, I took notes. This made me a more active participant, even though I was watching everything on my screen. In no particular order, here were some of my favorite takeaways:
As a new member of the Ruby community, I don’t have any Ruby friends outside of my coworkers. I quickly realized that attending virtually meant it would be tough to meet people at the conference.
I thought I would feel more saddened by this, but I actually think this year was great to do virtually. Considering how new I am to Ruby and Rails, I wanted to focus on content consumption. Typically at conferences, I like to make new friends and start side conversations.
Being virtual allowed me to focus more on watching content and taking notes rather than socializing with others.
This experience has gotten me very excited about my attendance at future tech conferences. I’m convinced that these talks, when implemented, can be huge accelerators for my career and my connections.
RubyConf 2021 has also gotten me motivated to tackle more challenging problems at work and during my own time. This boost alone makes attending worth it.
Happy Building! 👋
© Saalik Lokhandwala, 2021