If you have never been to a convention before, then I would highly recommend taking the time to attend at least one. They are an amazing way to meet new people, learn more about a certain field, and have fun! PyOhio 2018 was in no short supply of these, boasting many events to connect with people, the chance to work on interesting projects to advance a common goal and develop new skills, and a variety of informational talks.
A particular interest of mine in attending PyOhio was to network with people who were software engineers to get a good feeling for what sort of skills were most useful, find places that might be hiring, and how to ace interviews for tech jobs. Two great ways the event fulfilled this interest was through sprints, and open spaces that hosted different topics.
If you are unfamiliar with what a “sprint” is in this context, a simple definition is that it is a laid back gathering where people can meet to ask for help with their projects or just show off them off. Sometimes it’s as small as an individual’s pet project, to a team’s large and complex application. These are a great occasion to meet new people and discuss their work and potentially gain some experience. I had decided to learn more about the Arcade sprint that was led by Paul Everitt. This project revolved around improving a 2D arcade game library. In doing so, I learned about operating in a team to test code and fix bugs.
Something novel I had not experienced much of at other conferences was the use of open spaces, where a topic could be discussed in an informal group setting. I was able to attend one on interviewing; I was a little surprised but the discussion was possibly at least as interesting and enlightening as any of the formal talks. I really appreciated the opportunity this gave attendees to ask more detailed questions from a speaker, though I believe these would have been better if there was a little more time allocated.
The subjects of the talks ran the gamut from new language features that had recently been developed, to interesting uses of Python with other tools like Raspberry Pi, and even how to be more successful in the interview process as a company or a job seeker. They ranged in length from longer 30 – 45 minute sessions to short 5 minute lightning talks. Longer tutorials were also available to those who had preregistered for them as well. While it was hard at times to choose which to attend as 4 – 5 occurred simultaneously, the choice was made easier by the fact that all of them would be posted on YouTube. I would highly recommend that if you are curious about the conference to watch them. They should give a good feel for what things may get presented at other similar conferences.
Having never been to a Python or any computer science conference before, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I experienced was beyond comparison as an informational and networking event that had many fun moments as well. I would absolutely recommend this conference to anyone who is a beginner to the language or to grizzled veterans and I can’t wait till next year’s conference!