RailsConf 2017: An Organizer's Perspective

Why this conference felt a little different for me

Conference audience by Top Rank Marketing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Railsconf 2017… for those who have been to their fair share of conferences, you know how it goes. The sessions are interesting, but the best part is seeing old friends and people you don’t get to see very often. You pick the sessions you really want to attend and then make good use of the hallway track. But this conference was a little different for me because I was an organizer.

As you may have seen in previous posts, after reading through hundreds of proposals and carefully curating my two tracks, I was excited to see what the conference would bring. One thing I didn’t expect was how responsible I felt for conference-related items. When all was said and done, I was “responsible” for 11 sessions and all of the folks speaking on various panels.

For me, this meant making all speakers and panelists feel comfortable and confident before their sessions. Before the conference, I had offered all the speakers in my tracks both support and guidance. I also gave them the option to practice their talk or discuss the intention of their panel.

Once we arrived at the conference, what made it even more difficult is that I had no idea what some of these speakers or panelists looked like! At the speaker dinner, I tried to walk around, awkwardly read name tags, and find as many people as I could to meet face-to-face. Then, before their session started, I made sure to introduce each speaker or panel moderator. Furthermore, I tried to provide some encouraging words to them. After the conference, I also thanked everyone for their hard work in putting their session together and offered feedback if desired.

I was proud and excited for what I had put together! I had no idea how it would go! Would people enjoy the tracks? Would they see the subtle story arc being told? Would they think the sessions were valuable to the conference as a whole? I was shockingly anxious to see how it would all play out when the time for each session came along. In the end, I’m probably biased, but I think the sessions were interesting, unique, and educational.

I hope people that attended, enjoyed RailsConf and it was an honor to be on the RailsConf 2017 program committee.

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!