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How to make the most out of the EuroSTAR Conference-->
If you’re reading this, chances are that you are attending (or are interested in attending) this year’s EuroSTAR conference in sunny Manchester, UK. Good! But how do you handle this international smorgasbord of testing goodness? Allow me to give you a couple of pointers.
Study the programme beforehand. Make a shortlist, if you like. Time really flies on a conference day, and if you have to make that heartbreaking choice in between track sessions, you risk ending up in the wrong session. That’s right, sessions that are valuable for some might bring nothing new to others. The programme consists of a healthy mix of topics for all experience levels, and it’s good to get yourself familiar with them. That plane ride seems like a good occasion.
The expo is the vibrant heart of the conference. A lot of stuff is happening in there, at all times. Every year, exhibitors do their best to bring something creative and innovative in their expo booths: presentations, demos, books, contests, goodies (mmm… goodies…) This is your chance to get your hands on that cool robot or nifty little gadgets that will make you the hippest person on the Northern hemisphere. And hey, it’s where the food and coffee are served too (mmm… food…)
Well, not really the *hallway*. Rather, the people roaming those hallways. Don’t be afraid to talk to speakers, to tell them what you liked or didn’t like about their sessions. Don’t feel guilty when missing out on a session when a hallway discussion takes an unexpected turn. After all, conferences are about conferring. The interactions should be bi-, not unidirectional.
Big testing conferences like Eurostar attract people from all corners of the world, from different testing schools, different backgrounds, coping with a multitude of problems on their jobs. Interacting with them can be an eye-opening experience. There are plenty of networking opportunities during the week: the aforementioned hallway, the networking drinks, the coffee breaks, lunch, the gala event at the Manchester monastery. Even twitter. Try tweeting a dinner invitation to the #esconfs crowd and be amazed at the gratifying outcome.
If you want to learn from thought leaders, the tutorials are your best bet. Last year I attended tutorials by Rob Sabourin and Michael Bolton, and those alone made my conference worthwhile.
The Test Lab
Actual testing at a testing conference! What a crazy and wild idea! Make sure to drop in to practise you exploratory testing fu, interact with and learn from others. Say hi to test lab rats Martin Jansson, Henrik Emilsson and their apprentices. This is the place where you’ll bump into the most passionate testers out there, and -who knows – maybe win the “most evil tester” or “best bug” award.