Writing My First CFP

angieg0nzalez profile image Angelica Gonzalez ・3 min read

As I new developer, I find myself going through a lot of firsts. This past month my friend and I wrote our first abstract for a CFP. We submitted to Github Universe a talk about our bot that helps newbies contribute to open source for their first time. This project was actually our first contribution to open source. So many FIRSTS!

Answering a Call For Proposals is actually kind of scary. I had no idea where to start, how it should look, what it should say. So I did the thing I always do when I'm stuck: I asked Twitter! And Twitter came to the rescue.


I received a lot of great links to different resources on how to get started. These were my favorite.

  • vmbrasseur/Public_Speaking - An extremely thorough repo with links to all things about speaking at conferences. There's links on how to find a conference, what do with rejection, and how to write a proposal.

  • CFP's Made Easier by E. Dunham - Since I had very little idea of how a CFP worked, I really enjoyed how this post broke down what should be in abstract. I took each question the author asked and made sure I was able to answer it. This made for a long abstract at first, but it gave me a much clearer idea of what I wanted to say.

  • Speak at GitHub - And of course, I turned to GitHub's own blog post to make sure I was writing something they were looking for. I especially liked how the author shared examples of what some of their favorite talks were from last year.

Some other resources can be found here [0] [1] [2] [3]

How I Did It

First I created a Google doc and dumped all these new links and samples on there. I read through the articles, extracted what I thought was the most important bits, and pasted them on the doc. Then I linked back to the article so I knew where the info was coming from. I also copy pasted the GitHub Universe application on to the doc so I could brainstorm on there and be able to refer back to my notes. While reading all these resources, I specifically looked for prompts/questions that I could answer to get me started in the writing. First draft done! Then I turned to my most valuable resource...MENTORS.

I attended a wonderful and amazing event called "Own Your Expertise" by Write/Speak/Code. There I had the opportunity to sit one-on-one with a mentor (Shout out to Annie Flippo, an awesome Sr Data Scientist here in LA) and go through my abstract. The main point I took from her was that my abstract was lacking personality. Coming from a research background in college, I had written it like an abstract for a research paper, it was objective and distant. So for my second iteration I worked on injecting a little more of us into it. After the second draft was done, I shared it with out project mentor, the also awesome @gr2m. He's been guiding us through the project and been an amazing resource. Gregor helped us add more personality and narrow down the talk's goal and details.


I received an email from Github Universe yesterday, we didn't get picked. But that's ok! We will reach out to local meet ups to try and show our project there. I also want to submit this talk to other CFPs and I will be writing blog posts about the actual project and my journey in contributing to open source.

My main take away from this is how invaluable a network and mentors are. If I would have done this by myself, I probably would not have even submitted. By reaching out to Twitter and meeting with mentors I was able to gain confidence, guidance, and motivation to keep trying.

You can check out our project's repo here: First Timers Only Bot. It's not live yet, but it will be very soon and it will be very exciting!

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Great post! Will you be at the Write/Speak/Code conference later this month?


Thank you! Unfortunately I won't make it to the conference, but I'm attending the local meetups in LA.