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Kevin Lewis for You Got This

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You Got This 2020 Retrospective

The second You Got This conference took place on Saturday 18th January 2020, in Birmingham, UK.

Our focus for this event remains on the “core skills” that are often overlooked but can be invaluable for having a happy and healthy career.

Thanks to the large amount of thoughtful feedback in 2019, the Underland Events team were able to make the 2020 conference more inclusive and impactful.

The audience watching a talk

Like last year, this retrospective is meant to be a short read covering key feedback - both in what our attendees enjoyed and points for future improvement.

The top-line

  • We managed to have 221 attendees turn up on-the-day. With the change in location away from the UK's capital, it was especially good to see that numbers increased on last year.
  • Only a 15% no-show rate, which is much better than we expected and certainly much lower than other events we've run.
  • We gave away 55 scholarships - 15 of which covering travel, accommodation and childcare costs.
  • 56% of attendees who disclosed their pronouns didn't use he/him, which is wonderful. We hope everyone had a great time!


In a change from last year, we organised a dry social at the end of the day (in addition to comfort breaks and opportunities to socialise in between talks). We were pleased to observe about a quarter of our attendees took part in this.

Some people felt that 9 talks was too many for a single day conference. We had provided this number because we wanted to give value for our ticket cost. In future we'll work harder to emphasise the quiet breakout space, networking opportunities, and the fact that all content is optional (and recorded). We will also consider the total runtime of the event.

We also heard that attendees would have valued a variety in content - mentioning workshops and panels. We'll consider this when organising the next event. There was also feedback on the lack of Q&A sessions after talks. At You Got This we encourage conversation with speakers in breaks as this is often more comfortable for everyone.


Broadly, people enjoyed the talks. We invited three of our speakers to give keynotes, and selected the rest through a talk submission process. Talks were then blind-reviewed to get from the 100+ we had received to the top 6. All of our talks, including transcripts, can be found on the You Got This website. Thank you again to our video sponsor Pusher for recording all of the talks on the day.

Our talks switched between positive lessons to help attendees improve their careers, and more hard-hitting talks about some of the negative aspects of the tech industry. We're proud of the content our speakers provided, but in hindsight we could have ordered the talks to minimise context-switching between these two very contrasting viewpoints.

We know sometimes it's hard to talk about the negative realities that some people have faced in tech. We want to make sure this doesn't put people off entering the industry, but equips them on what to do if they find themselves in such situations. We feel this is important as these topics are not often covered at other conferences.


We had comment that we should have provided breakfast given the full-on day with an early start. We totally agree and generally try to provide breakfast at events that start pre-11am, but we didn't this year on a budgetary basis. We'll definitely try and do this next time.

This said, we're happy to have provided an all-vegan event (with the exception of a cow milk option for teas/coffees). In future we'll continue to do this but try and use a local, independent caterer if possible.

We had a food wastage plan in place thanks to the wonderful team at Millennium Point (our venue). We gave a local homeless shelter lots of drinks, sanitary products and the 10 portions of lunch that were left over.

Comfort and Experience

We always try to focus on providing an inclusive and comfortable experience at You Got This. However this year, one failure on our part was turning all toilets into gender-neutral facilities without noting which ones had sanitary bins 🤦🏻‍♂️. I think this is a great example of how having a more diverse team leads to a more inclusive event. Fortunately, this is a lesson that only needs to be learnt once.

The Roll Call

Right, time for the thanks.

Firstly thanks to our wonderful MCs and speakers for providing such amazing content - Jess, Matt, Keziyah, Matthew, Amina, Gargi, Melinda, Nathaniel, Ruth, Dan and Amy.

Thank you to sponsors who helped us make this event feasible and accessible with a low ticket cost. They are: Auth0, Balsamiq, DigitalOcean, GitHub Education, Major League Hacking, Mozilla, Proactive, Pusher, Samsung Internet and Twilio.

Thank you to the whole delivery team and venue staff - they made the event a joy to deliver. Big props to Sunny who did a lot of the planning and comms for the event.

Alex Frois filmed the talks, but also did a bunch of other little things that made our event easier to run. Andrew Howell was a great live captioner, Harshpal our photographer and Bevis who managed our social media coverage of the day.

So What's Next?

This was the last event from the Underland Events team, but You Got This UK 2021 will still happen as a voluntary effort with some more people joining the organising team (news about this soon). It'll happen in early 2021 and will return to London.

You may have also noticed that I specified 'UK'. We really want to encourage other teams around the world to run more events that focus on core skills. As a result we're framing You Got This as a series of community-run conferences which we will lend support to. If you are interested get in touch and we can discuss how this will work.

In the meantime we are pleased to welcome Adulting.Dev to the network - an annual conference in New York run by the lovely Shy Ruparel.

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