In late September I attended my first in person testing conference, TestBash UK.
I’ve previously been to online events, in person agile and development conferences and an alternative style event – TestBashX Edinburgh, but this was especially exciting.
I was attending as a speaker.
Now before I talk more on my actual experience as a speaker, I want to go back a few years. Throughout my life, my career decisions have been to put myself in a position where I can make a difference beyond the team. To do something people may care about. Whether it was the industry when working in games, becoming an “expert” in the growing ONVIF field or my ideas around “Behaviour-driven Lean Testing”, it all boiled down to one thing.
I wanted to do *something*. To be *someone*. The idea that I could meet a stranger and for them to know of my work was a big dream.
(I know, groan)
When I created my Threat Agents game I wasn’t sure of its value initially but people were very excited by it. Jump forwards less than a year and I am attending TestBash UK as a speaker.
As the event drew closer, I started getting nervous. I didn’t know anyone there. I have social anxiety and whilst speaking didn’t scare me (too much), turning up at a conference did. That first moment of walking up to the bar to have a drink with people, I was trembling.
However what struck me and made it such a wonderful event was how welcoming and friendly everyone was. If I spent longer than 2 minutes looking like a deer in headlights, someone would come over and introduce themselves. When looking for a seat, I’d be invited over.
I got to meet so many lovely people. There were folk from throughout the UK and beyond, each with different levels of experience, from someone new to testing to a veteran over decades. I spoke to many people with a mix of skill sets and different passions within testing.
My talk was (not unsurprisingly) on threat modelling, in particular my journey getting into threat modelling and how I’ve brought it to my team.
I’d been practising it over and over, walking around my living room whilst speaking to an empty sofa. How would it feel doing this in front of people? Especially because I’m a very anxious, shy and nervous person (at first).
There was only way to go about it – go for it. Embrace it.
After (hopefully no longer than) 30 minutes my talk was complete. The crowd had laughed at my jokes, applauded my video and gave a positive response. I was beaming afterwards! The following day I ran my workshop and people warmed to it really well. My favourite moment of the entire conference was just listening in on one of the groups and hearing a perfect example of a threat modelling discussion.
It was the proudest few days of my life, other than my wedding of course.
And the exciting part is that I’m not done there…
If anyone is reading this and hasn’t attended a conference before then I’d thoroughly recommend it. Not only do you get to attend great talks (and often also workshops etc) but networking is a huge part of what makes an event so great. I’d always thought that “networking” with people would be like my initial experience and impression of LinkedIn – trying to promote yourself on the jobs market – but it is so much more. It is a great mixture of socialising and learning with maybe a dash of schmoozing along the way.
And finally in other news
Just make sure you leave your weekend free afterwards because you might be pretty knackered! For example maybe not go to the zoo spread over a steep hill with your niece and nephew!