Nerd Journey Bonus Episode #05: VMworld US 2019 and Choosing an IT Conference to Attend

Welcome to Bonus Episode #05 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we briefly discuss our plans for VMworld 2019 in San Francisco, then focus on the more general case of attending IT conferences.

Original Recording Date: 08-11-2019

Topics – VMworld 2019 Plans and Attending IT Conferences

1:03 Attending VMworld 2019 in San Francisco

  • John and Nick both first attended VMworld before becoming employees
  • John and Nick both have short sessions. Come check them out!
    • John’s – Save the IT Department: Add the Development Platform to Your Portfolio [CODE3333U]
    • Nick’s – Pi in the Sky: Using Wavefront to Analyze Pi-Hole Data [VMTN5013U]
  • We’ll have Nerd Journey Stickers!
  • Tweet @ us for a chat or a meal!
  • We’ll bring recording gear if you’re interested in recording a brief discussion about your VMworld show or career journey

5:17 Choosing the Right IT Conference to Attend

  • Types of Conference
    • Vendor Specific
      • Sponsored and dominated by one vendor
        • VMware VMworld
        • Microsoft Ignite
        • Oracle Openworld
        • Kubecon
        • Dockercon
        • AWS Re:Invent
        • Apple WWDC
        • Google [Cloud] Next
        • Salesforce
        • etc
        • EDIT: Some we forgot:
        • Cisco Live
        • Nutanix .NEXT
        • Google I/O
        • SAP Sapphire
        • VeeamON
        • Dell Technologies World
        • Puppetize (Puppet)
        • AnsibleFest (Ansible)
        • ChefConf (Chef)
        • HashiConf (Terraform)
        • ServiceNow Knowledge
        • Others? Let us know and we’ll add them here
      • Vendor tech sphere and adjacencies conference, but now it’s a general security conference
      • Vendor announcements
        • Review Bonus Ep #1‘s discussion of career implications on paying attention to announcements
    • Industry Specific
      • Spiceworld
      • BlackHat
      • Human Resources
      • Modern Arts
      • Manufacturing
      • John points out that RSA used to be a vendor show, but is now a general technology security industry show
      • EDIT: Omissions
      • DEFCON
    • Topic / Thought Area Specific
      • Leadership
      • Monitorama
      • DevOps Days
  • 9:42 Things to consider when making a decision
    • What interests you?
      • Specific technology area
        • Branching out into coding, containers, cloud, etc
      • Specific vendor’s brand / product
        • Who do you love?
        • Cross-show exposure – vendors showcase at each other’s show –
      • Industry exposure
        • Trends and hot topics
  • 12:38 What are the reasons to attend?
    • Nerd vacation

    • Party

    • Professional Networking

    • Learn new skills / exposure to a new area or technology

    • Become more specialized

    • Become more generalized

    • Reward for team members if you have influence over that

    • Past, Present, Future

      • Fill holes or address problems that have occurred on the job in the past
        • Present on lessons learned
      • Address current projects or those in the immediate future
        • Meet subject matter experts on your notional architecture
        • Meet peers who might have done similar projects before
      • Fill gaps for your future
        • Change career direction
        • Personal growth
        • Peer Networking
  • 21:47 Who’s going to pay for the conference
    • You pay
      • Travel, possibly pay attention to costs
        • Proximity to home may be more important to keep costs low
      • Conference Pass
        • Ways to save money
          • Blogger pass
          • Speaking / Presenting
            • Usually get a free pass
            • But not travel/lodging
          • Free or inexpensive one-day conference DevOps Days VMUG UserCon Local vendor-sponsored workshops
          • John’s anecdotes Speaking at SpiceWorld Wife playing at the National Flute Association
          • Virtual Conferences
      • Food
        • Does you conf pass include all the food and beverage or just breakfast and lunch?
        • Healthy food vs. conference food
      • Entertainment
        • Included with some conferences
        • if traveling to a different area, entertainment costs outside the conference are on your tab
    • 31:42 Your employer pays
      • Part of an annual training budget?
        • Are you limited by a dollar amount or specific number of conferences?
        • Potential interview ask
      • Sell the conference
        • Benefits to the company? How will you become more valuable?
          • Expedite research for a project
          • Proximity to product teams
          • Training for a skillset missing on the team
          • Exposure to industry peers
          • Direction for department / company from outside sources
            • How did others handle it?
          • Attendance of past virtual events
        • Manager vision match
        • Commit to briefing the team / manager on your experience after returning
        • Document you get from conferences so t
      • Will the employer foot the bill for the entire conference?
        • If no, how about just the pass?
        • No travel costs, but expense driving?
  • 37:39 The Best Match…
    • Valuable to you AND your employer
      • Actionable takeaways for you and the company
      • John’s example of an ERP vendor search
      • Show excitement
    • Supports your career goals
      • Consider exploring a new area to widen your range and exposure
    • Within budget
    • Minimal travel
    • Take advantage of connections made
  • 40:23 Revisiting Survival Tips
    • Sleep
    • Comfort
      • Clothing
        • Comfortable but professional
          • What if you run into someone who’s critical to your career growth?
          • What if you run into someone who’s interested in your organization?
        • Sunglasses
      • Personal Grooming
        • Lip Balm
    • Technology
      • Do you really need to lug your laptop around?
      • Can you get by with just your phone?
    • Hydrate!
    • Schedule Building
      • Sessions
      • Expo
      • Professional and personal networking
    • Food
  • 46:26 Our current dream conferences
    • John
      • 5 years ago, it was VMworld!
      • Full Stack web-app conference
      • NG-Conf or something like it
      • Relevant to current side-project
        • Docker
        • Angular
        • JavaScript
    • Nick
      • Grok patterns side project
      • ElasticOn
      • Microsoft Ignite
        • Learn about Azure
      • Monitorama

49:22 Closing Thought

  • See if your management will support you not doing regular work or be on-call while you’re at the conference

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

image sources

  • Bonus05: John White

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