Heidi Waterhouse speaking at The Lead Developer Photo credit: © Katura Jensen 2016

How conference speaking is like being in (US) college

I have a super busy conference schedule for the next few months. I’m really excited about getting to go see new people and talk to them about software development patterns and data hoarding!

Also I feel a little guilty, because I’m leaving my kids and spouse home and that’s a lot of work when you are pretty even co-parents.

But then my friend pointed out that conference speaking was super educational, made me a ton of valuable connections, and cost a lot less time and money than grad school would. Excellent point!

How the conference speaking circuit is like college

  • You have multiple conflicting and overlapping assignments. No one cares what you are doing for any other boss/professor/conference.
  • You spend a lot of time honing and crafting thesis statements that you will then end up wandering away from in the finished product.
  • Weeks of research, minutes of talking.
  • Reading novels feels like a naughty indulgence when there is a field to keep up on.
  • Too much beer.
  • You start to recognize other people in your field, and look forward to seeing them, while believing all along that they are WAY smarter than you.
  • Your imposter syndrome gets worse the more applause you get.
  • There are secret lines of power. You are pretty sure you will never understand them. Except for people you know who are powerful, of course. But they’re just your friends.
  • Weekends are the new Tuesday. There are no down days.
  • That Guy. Who never does his work in group sessions and asks questions that were answered in lecture.
  • Sleep is a thing that happens to other people.
  • “This is more of a comment”.
  • Trying to figure out who to sit next to in the dining hall.
  • Surprisingly good desserts.
  • Taking notes in a variety of awkward, ergonomically tragic chairs.

and finally

  • College and conference speaking are alike because they make your horizons bigger, your world smaller, and yourself proud.