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Yechiel Kalmenson
Yechiel Kalmenson

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Of Conferences And Scholars

Attending a tech conference has been on my bucket list for a while now. I feel like being able to spend some time around people whose eyes don’t glaze over when I talk about timing attacks, or nested forms, or best practices for TDD would do wonders for my coding skills. Being able to learn from so many smart people, and make connections in the tech community would be an amazing opportunity.

The problem is it’s not so simple. Tech conference tickets run in the hundreds of dollars, that’s even before factoring in airline tickets and hotels. Add to the mix taking 3–4 days off of work and things add up quickly.

RubyConf logo

But a young coder can dream, so a few months ago I applied for a scholarship to RubyConf 2017, the largest conference of Ruby programmers in the world, which will be held in New Orleans this year.

I didn’t hold my hopes too high, after all, hundreds of people applied just like me, and when I got an email letting me know I’ve been put on a waitlist I pretty much forgot about it.

Imagine my excitement when a few weeks ago I got an email from the organizers that a spot opened up asking if I was still interested?

Are You Kidding Me? gif

Obviously, I was terribly interested, the problem was would my wallet allow it. The scholarship covered the $400 conference ticket, but travel and accommodations were another few hundred dollars. Thankfully our friends at Google Cloud Platform agreed to reimburse us for part of those expenses, so while things were still tight, I figured it would be worth it, and after a brief consultation with my extremely supportive wife, I notified the organizers that we were on!

The scholarship is an amazing opportunity. Not only is your admission covered, but throughout the conference scholarship recipients (called Scholars) are paired with guides; veteran conference-goers whose job is to accompany us, introduce us to people, point out which talks were worth attending, and generally make our first-conference experience as enjoyable as possible.


This being my first conference, I’m trying to go in with an open mind as far as expectations, but I figured having a loose list of goals would help me maximize the experience (and keep me grounded). So in no particular order:

  • During the conference, I would like to make at least 3 connections that will continue after the conference.
  • I would like to learn about at least one new technology interesting enough for me to research after the conference and incorporate into a project.
  • Write a blog post about said new technology.
  • Extra Credit: make a connection that will lead to a job in tech :)

Throughout the conference I hope to update my followers about all the things I’ll be learning and people I’ll be meeting, so make sure keep an eye out, and if anyone reading this will be at RubyConf hit me up, I’d love to chat!

This article has been cross-posted from my blog Rabbi On Rails.
You can read more about my coding journey there, or by following me on Twitter @yechielk

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