Going into my first academic conference, I had little idea or expectation about what it was going to be like. I had signed up for literally everything I could sign up for - Student Volunteer Program, Summer School, Conference Events - in order to get the most out of the whole week’s worth of conference experience. Thinking about it now back in Vancouver, signing on these forms was probably the best thing I’ve done this year.
As a student volunteer, I got a bird’s-eye view of the conference and had the privilege of being able to approach the attendees without the initial-contact awkwardness, thanks to the power of the orange t-shirt. I had the pleasure of discussing various topics (not just programming languages) with influential researchers from diverse backgrounds, and getting some practical advice from mentors in the Summer School. It was especially helpful to hear viewpoints from both industry and academia, as I believe collaboration between the two is very important in engineering.
Being outsiders in a foreign city, many of us student volunteers and other industry/academic researchers got together daily after the official schedule to socialize and check-out the city in a more relaxed setting, sometimes getting into deeper philosophical discussions over beer. I have to admit that the after-hour activities were a valuable part of the conference experience, as we got to find out more about each other’s work and draw ideas and inspiration from each other. Additionally, getting to know people before my presentation on Friday helped me to be relaxed and confident.
All in all, I enjoyed every part of the CurryOn/ISSTA/ECOOP conference and am glad I got to discover this wonderful community of researchers. Hopefully I will find something to work on with my new friends and present in a future edition :)