Just 5 days left to KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America! 🙂 I am quite excited to finally attend this awesome conference and the chance to visit sunny San Diego! 🙂 Whether you are a first time attendee as well, or just looking to get your money’s worth from the conference here is a list of to-dos to make the most of this experience.
If you have not heard about KubeCon, then this is a conference aimed at Kubernetes and related container technologies, a way to get software applications running with cloud services. This is an entire ecosystem, and in the next few years will change software infrastructure concepts for all companies. Myriad companies including Uber, Google, Shopify, JPMorgan are already on board and deploying using these new methods.
These technologies are also a huge part of how machine learning models and AI applications are implemented successfully and at scale, which is why I (as owner of this datascience blog) got interested in Kubernetes. If you’ve run machine learning models using cloud services, you might have also used some of these tools without ever being aware of it.
This is (obviously) my first time attending this conference and visiting the city, so I had tons of Qs and thoughts. The amazing list of speakers and conference tracks also make it hard to choose which sessions to attend. Thankfully, I was able to get some excellent advice from the dedicated Slack channels for the conference and past attendees.
Since the countdown clock has started, I’ve summarized the tips for others, so you can make the most of this experience.
1. Get on Slack
- I am so thankful to Wendi West, Paris Pittman and other moderators in the Slack channels for patiently answering questions, hotel recommendations, sending event reminders and building some great vibes for the conference! the organizers for this conference .
- I found a lot of useful information on the channel specific to the Diversity scholarship recipients, followed by the events channel. If you still have last minute Qs, then post on this channel or DM the organizers.
- The Slack channels are great to connect with folks before the event, so you have some familiar faces to meet at the conference.
- If you have not checked the Slack channel – look it up via cloud-native.slack.com
2. Which Sessions to Attend
- By now everyone should have created an itinery for themselves. If not please use the “sched” app with the following workspace url https://kccncna19.sched.com/
- Note that you should have one broad agenda for the conference – either info for attempting a certification, networking for a job, discuss case studies so you can apply concepts at your job, or something else. This will allow you to make better selections without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of (fantastic) choices!
- For me, the main goals is understand how Kubernetes is deployed for machine learning & AI projects. Since I work for a bank, security issues and migration of legacy/mainframe software into cloud services are also relevant topics, as are case studies. Having this theme allowed me to quickly decide and create a meaningful list of sessions to attend. I also hope to network with 25+ new people, a goal that should be quite easy in a conference with 8000+ attendees and spanning 5 days.
- PRO TIP: Couple of past attendees advised not to over-schedule and to look at room locations. Although the conference is mainly happening at the San Diego convention center, there are some sessions that are being held at the Marriot and other hotels. So look them up and make sure you have enough time to walk to different venues.
- Plus, if a session is quite interesting, you might want to hang back and chat with the speaker or ask additional clarifications. This might cause you to miss the next session, so design your schedule carefully.
- Being part of a distince Diversity scholarship Slack channel means that I’ve already connected with 5-10 other recipients. After all these online discussions, it will great to meet these talented and ambitious folks in person!
- Most past attendees have emphatically stated that folks attending this conference are very generous with their time, so please make the most of their expertise and knowledge.
- Dont be shy! Speak up.
- Speakers are amazing, and human too! So feel free to say hello after the session, and ask follow up Qs or just thank them for an interesting discussion.
- For those who are extremely nervous about networking, here is a unique tip that someone told me years ago. Pick a color and talk to at least 5 people wearing clothes in that color. This might seem crazy, but it is a very practical way of overcoming self-bias and prejudices and talking to people we would not normally approach (feeling shy, out of place or other reasons) I’ve used it at other events and conferences and made some fabulous connections!
- Use LinkedIn app and connect immediately. If you met someone interesting, then send them an invite during the conversation itself. No one ever says no, and if you wait you will forget to followup, either because you forgot their name, used the wrong spelling or misplaced their business card. Plus, at such large conferences it is terribly hard to keep track of all the people you meet. I used this at the Philly AI conference very successfully, and can’t wait to connect with folks at KubeCon too!
During the conference:
- Keep a notepad handy for broad keywords and ideas that are directly applicable to your role (and conference goal) .
- List the session date, speaker name and time. This will help you look it up later, esp as I’ve heard many speakers post their ppt and videos after the conference.
- Tweet! Use the tags #KubeCon #CloudNativeCon and #DiversityScholarship.
- Connect with people on LinkedIn (reiterating from above)
- Check out the sponsored coffee/breakfast sessions and after hour meetups; I’ve heard they are amazing, as are the “lightning talks” post 5 pm.
- Attend the sponsor expo and booths. Apart from the cool swag (tees, pens, stickers, etc) you will get to see some interesting demos, hobnob with folks from companies both large and small. Basically everyone from startups to large enterprises like Microsoft and Palo Alto, and everything in between. Great way to learn what’s happening in this space – you might even get your own unicorn startup idea! 🙂
- Reconnect with the folks you’ve met on LinkedIn.
- Add a blog post summarizing info you’ve learnt and takeaways from the conference. Everyone has a unique perspective, so don’t feel as if everything has already been said! Ideally do this within a week, when you are still fresh with your ideas. Remember to use the hashtags.
- Add pictures from the event on LinkedIn. Make sure to tag your new friends too!
- If possible, present a brown bag or session to your team (or group) at office. This is a great way of disseminating information to others who could not attend, improve your public speaking skills and also score some brownie points for your next employee appraisal! Win-win all around.
- Use what you’ve learnt. Even if it is just a little portion!
- Plan ahead to attend next year’s conference!
That’s it from me, see you all at the conference!