35 before 35: #13 - Attend a professional conference
I wasn't sure I was going to make this goal after I found out I was pregnant since the conference I was planning to attend was the week of my due date. Fortunately, it was also held here in Charleston, so that made it easier, and when the baby hadn't arrived by that week, I figured I would be okay to attend. Plus, I knew a ton of the people there since many were current coworkers and former coworkers (and friends), so it wasn't like I was far away at a conference full of strangers where I wouldn't know anyone to help me if I needed it.
So anyway, the conference I went to (in case you didn't figure it out from the pictures) was GIANT Conference, which is a conference for user experience (UX) professionals (or according to the tagline, "a conference for people who create rad experiences"), and that's what I do all day at my day job.
While I didn't get to attend most of the after parties or do a lot of mingling in general because I was pretty tired from being nine months pregnant, I still got a lot of out just attending the sessions. And it's so important to get out of the office sometimes to soak in different perspectives from my field and see and learn about what other people are doing, so this conference was an excellent way to do that.
The speaker line up was impressive, especially considering this was the inaugural year for the conference, and included industry professionals like Jared Spool, Ethan Marcotte, and Aaron Draplin. My favorite session (other than Jared Spool's keynote) was with Jessica Ivins on Introducing UX into a Culture because it applied directly to some of things I'm currently doing at my day job (so as not to bore you too much, the extreme Cliff Notes version of what that means for me is establishing a UX research program and getting that integrated into the overall product development process). In addition to the stellar speakers, the after parties (so I heard) were pretty fun, too, and a local brewery even made a special beer just for the conference (awesome!).
I'm certainly looking forward to attending next year, especially since it's here in Charleston again, and I'm sure it will be even bigger and better the second time around. I'll be able to attend more after parties (and drink the special conference beer!) and talk with more people since I won't be anticipating going into labor at any moment, so overall, it will be a better experience for me both personally and professionally.
Bottom line: if you work in UX (or even if you don't but want to get into it), get yourself to this conference in 2015.
Full disclosure: i'm friends with/a former coworker of the guys who founded and put this conference together, however that doesn't mean my opinion of the conference is swayed in any direction and no one asked me or paid me to write this post.
35 Before 35 is a list of 35 goals I want to accomplish before I hit 35 in August 2014. Some of them are big things, some small, but all of them are things I really want to do, and what better time to do them than now?