Conference from the couch…?

Find out what its like to attend a conference whilst working from home and some of my takeaways from the day.

When I attend a conference, I always enjoy myself. They’re great for learning, hearing people’s experiences and making new friends. They can also be exhausting! Usually, an early start is required to travel. Then the concentration all day on all the talks given and socialising in-between can take it out of you.

Now as most people know I am a HUGE fan of Ministry of Testing and everything TestBash. When I heard MOT where doing TestBash Home, I knew I had to attend! No travel involved, good talks and I could be as socially active as I wanted. My social anxiety was ecstatic, this was the perfect set up!

So, I’m very thankful to AO for not only allowing me the time to go but for also paying for my ticket! It’s one of my favourite perks of the job! Always helping us to learn and develop.

Conference Day

The actual conference was 24 hours long to cover time zones all over the world. Some people were hardcore and stayed up for the full 24 hours. I, however, can’t function when I have minimal sleep, so I attended Part 4 & Part 5. Plus, in great MOT style all talks were recorded so I could catch up on them another time.

So, I put on my WFH uniform (Joggers and T-shirt, standard!). Made a coffee, grabbed my laptop and I watch the first part of the conference from the comfort of my bed. I wasn’t in bed to clarify, just on it!

Conference Schedule & Morning Set Up

The first talk was Evil User Stories by Anne Oikarinen. I always like listening to talks about Security Testing. It’s one of the subjects that I come away from inquisitive with more questions. One of the things I’ve never thought about is why people commit cyber-attacks. I’ve always put everyone into the same category of ‘being bad’. There are so many reasons why people attack! Political, Organised, Genuine mistakes or even just for fun. The one that struck me most was Ex-Employees. Maybe I’m just a bit naïve, but it shocked me to think that an ex-employee would go to those lengths to get ‘revenge’ on a company.

Break Time

Time for a change of scenery! I head downstairs with my laptop and notepad. Grab a fresh coffee, some homemade biscuits (I didn’t eat them all) and make my new home on the couch. I also use this break time to get social on Twitter, tweeting and reading other people’s thoughts so far!

Next up – The Testers Survival Guide To Joining A Continuous Delivery Project By Amy Phillips. The part of this talk that got me was the question ‘Do we have to code?’. I know this is always asked within the Testing Community. Coding is something I struggle with, however when Amy said ‘not knowing code might make you feel uncomfortable’ it hit me, that’s how I feel, 100%. I feel like I should be able to code, so when I cant it makes me feel uncomfortable like I’m failing.

Amy made a good point on the topic, ‘Is being able to read code is more valuable?’. If I can read the code, I can be more involved in sessions with developers without feeling lost. I’m also able to be part of technical discussions without looking so blank in meetings. Then if I do want to learn code start with what people are using. Don’t start with C# when my team use JavaScript.

Lunch Time

Straight to the kitchen I go for the food! No waiting in a queue for food. No standing up awkwardly trying to eat because there are no more seats. No hanging around on your own if you don’t know anyone, getting more and more anxious as time ticks on. Heaven! With food eaten it was time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Inspiration… And Burnout by Maryam Umar. This talk was honest and personal, everything I love about a talk. Maryam talked about her struggles with her mental health and testing. Something I can relate to. One of the things she said was that as a tester we often feel ‘It’s my fault’. We’re the ones who find the bugs and we can hold things up because of that which puts a burden on us. So being mindful of not getting into that negative space can work wonders for your mental health.

“We must put ourselves first. You can’t help anyone if you don’t look after yourself”

Maryam Umar

Break Time Take 2

During this break, I had a quick clean around (perks of an at-home conference) before settling back down to have a nosy on twitter.

Panel Discussion – Leadership. With 4 speakers, plus a host I was expecting people talking over one another at some points in this discussion. That didn’t happen, it was so well executed! I didn’t think I would enjoy this either with it being about leadership, a role I’m not in, but it proved me wrong. The panel discussed how when people move into management, they often see it as a promotion but it’s more of a career change. Management is a very specific path for people to go down. It’s made me question if that’s a path I’d want to go down in the future and if it is then there is a lot more to it!

End of the Day

I closed my laptop for the day and the conference was over as simple as that! No long journey home tired from the day, my commute didn’t exist! Would I do it again? 100%! A conference from my home was an ideal situation for me! I took away so many things from the day. I know I’ve only spoken about a few talks but there were other parts to the conference that I enjoyed. Demos / live testing / meeting the MOT bosses but the talks I’ve spoken about stuck with me the most.

I can’t wait for the next one!