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Why attend a conference?-->
Last week I read a nice blog by Huib Schoots. He raises the question: “Why go to the EuroSTAR conference”. In his blog he states that attending conferences can be rewarding, but is also expensive. So we will need to persuade our decision making managers that it worthwhile to attend. As part of the program committee of this year’s conference I have tried with my fellow committee members to make the program speak for itself. But more arguments might be needed.
As Huib Schoots quotes in his blogpost: “Conferences typically are the place where you can learn the latest developments and opinions, submerge yourself into the testing mindset, confer with your peers, refresh your ideas and expand your network”. I agree with this, and for me attending a conference is always rewarding. Better than by reading books and articles, surfing the internet, and by attending courses, conferences give you
• Food for thought
• Insight in the trends
Opportunities for benchmarking your ideas and experience.
This later is of great value to me, since by comparing your experience you’ll be better able to judge the situations at your office. You thought you were doing a poor job. Maybe you’ll learn from speaking with your peers that you are not doing so bad. You thought you were special, learn that others are dealing with the same problems as your department. It is by listening, talking and exchanging ideas that great solutions can arise.
But this might not be enough. Huib Schoots states: “The criteria for attending conferences I use are almost the same I use for courses. Roughly these criteria are: do we have budget, does the testers need the course and is this the best way to gain the knowledge?”
Good questions, and to be honest conferences are not always the best way. If you want very specific knowledge one topic, a course or book might be more efficient. And forums create opportunities for discussion.
Best benefit is gained if you know what is on your organizations agenda. If you can explain how the conference program aligns with this. One battle has already be won. If you prepare questions for which you will seek answers during the conference you will have a better focus during sessions and lunch break discussions. Finally, discuss with your manager how you will share your thoughts and conference experience once returned. Make sure it triggers discussion about the profession and makes other aware of how and why the testing is done in your organization. Opportunities like these are often rare in the hectic daily work, but can be very inspirational, help teambuilding and forces the employees to think about their work too.
Finally attending conferences triggered me to be aligned with the needs in the organization. Learned me to be more pro-active and to have an opinion. Made me aware of the richness and limitations of my experience and learned why others might have different test-believes. Finally it learned me to find the words needed to talk about all these items. I believe these thing make me a better professional.