Why Every Student Should Go to a Tech Conference

Last week I got to spend the day at the Colorado Technology Association’s APEX Conference in Denver. Going as a student is the best way to visit a technology conference. It was full of professionals eager to share their knowledge and their projects and as a student who isn’t hirable yet, there is no pressure to impress! So what to do I do at a place full of people who do the job and work on the projects that I want to work on? I ask questions of course!

If I wanted to work for your company, what should I learn?

This was my favorite question of the day. Being able to ask straight-forward questions was the best thing about going to the conference. Since I didn’t feel the need to impress people with my knowledge I was able to ask any question that came to mind.

I started my day by grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting at a large table. I ended up sitting next to the CEO of Motocol, Patrick Bailey. Motocol is a Greenwood Villlage-based company that creates enterprise-level mobile software. When I asked Patrick my question I hit a nerve, a good nerve. Patrick is a HTML5 and JavaScript advocate and recommended these languages along with jquery and jquery mobile.

The most popular answer was to learn .NET. This was recommended by representatives with Swiftpage, Slalom and Neudesic. Pivotal Labs educated me about Ruby on Rails. It turns out that Ruby is a language and Rails is a framework. It has nothing to do with red trains. The representative at Ajubeo, a cloud services provider recommended become a DBA and if you want to work for Ping, learn Java.

It’s no longer enough to say “I want to be a developer.” It’s too broad of a statement. I need to figure out what kind of developer I want to be: Web? Enterprise? Mobile? All of the above? None of the above? It’s a fun question to consider.

It’s Nice to Feel Wanted

There seemed to be a theme among the seminars regardless of the subject: A demand for quality developers. No matter which session, whether it was the “Big Data and Analytics”, “Cloud Security” or “The State of the State” the subject of there being not enough developers kept coming up. I wanted to yell out “I’m learning as fast as I can!”

My hope is that other Computer Science students read this and start getting more involved in their tech community before they graduate. It’s a great way to let companies know you’re here working to become the candidate they want. It’s also a great way to find out what you want to learn and what you need to learn to get the job you want.

Good luck and see you at the next tech conference!

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