Conferencing Success

How to get the most out of your RailsConf experience

Conference Crowd by Jarkko Laine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

RailsConf is coming up! If you’re anything like me, you look forward to conferences. It’s a place to learn, see friends, and take a little bit of a break from day-to-day work. That said, conferences can also be overwhelming. It can be challenging to force yourself out of your comfort zone, figure out what talks to go see, and just keep your energy level up for an entire conference. Here’s how to make the most of your RailsConf (or ANY conference for that matter!) experience.

Meet new people

Conferences are a great way to get to know folks from all over the world. While it can be intimidating, try to sit at a random table for lunch or chat with the people you sit next to before a talk begins. A great opening question is to ask someone what their favorite talk has been so far or if this is their first RailsConf.

Highlight some talks to go to

Try to take a look at the schedule beforehand to get a sense of which talks you might want to go to. However, this might change once you’re actually at the conference because you might hear some buzz about a specific talk. The schedule is intense and large! There are many concurrent tracks and subjects so you’ll want to get a sense before you head to the conference because once you get there, it’ll be BUSY!

Go to the events

There are a handful of unofficial events that can be found here or on the events board at the conference. There are usually a variety of different types of events including a hotel-based game night. These events are a great way to socialize with peers and have more time for casual conversations.

Take notes

You’re going to learn some great information, meet a lot of fantastic people, and there’s no way you’re going to remember everything at the end of the day. Take notes about things you’re learning, people you meet, and anything you find valuable. After the conference, it’ll enable you to follow the folks you meet on Twitter, write a blog post (or a few blog posts), or do a talk for your colleagues who couldn’t attend the conference with you.

Recharge yourself

Conferences can take a lot out of someone, no matter how extroverted you are. It’s a lot of people and a lot of different activities going on at once. Take time out of the day or pick an evening to just lay low and recharge so that you can be at your best for the rest of the conference.

Photo of Allison McMillan

Allison was first introduced to programming at a Rails Girls workshop after a career as a nonprofit executive. She is also an international conference speaker living in the Washington, DC area. When she’s not writing code for us, she invests her time leading the People Committee which focuses on the health and happiness of our team members!