Sunday night, I arrived home after one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.
What made this weekend so awesome for me was my attendance at WordCamp Toronto: Developers 2012 (WCTO). Hosted by George Brown College in downtown Toronto, it was a meeting of some of the coolest people around, united by the fact that we were all WordPress developers, or interested in becoming one.
I first heard about the WordCamp a couple of months ago, when I saw that there would be not one but two WordCamps in Toronto this year. Never having attended one before, I was immediately interested in going. I saw that there would be both an end user and a developers conference. I decided I would attend the developers, which would be more relevant and interesting to me. Not to mention, when I finally decided on going to WCTO, the end users conference was already very soon and I wouldn’t have been able to get ready in time.
Once all the administrative overhead of buying a ticket and finding a place to stay overnight was out of the way, it was time to wait excitedly for the big weekend.
The Week Before
Before WCTO rolled around, I came down with a pretty bad cold. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it but thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, I was feeling much better by the time of the conference.
I got myself packed and ready to go, prepared for a weekend of learning and hanging out with some of the coolest people around.
The Night Before
I arrived in Toronto Friday night. I would be staying at the conference hotel that night, before heading to the house of some relatives who live nearby for the Saturday night. Checked in, I walked around Toronto and saw some neat stuff (the city is a great place to walk around, always something to see or do). After that, I returned to the hotel ready to sleep.
Before I went to sleep, however, I sent out a Tweet (using my Twitter account which I had recently created) asking if anyone wanted to hang out with a young student developer at the event. Before long, the fantastic Brent Kobayashi replied to me, saying he hoped to see me at the there.
With this comforting Tweet in my mind, I went to sleep looking forward to what would end up being a very long day.
Day 1: People, Sessions, and More People
Come the first day, I arrived at the building and checked myself in (alone, to the surprised looks of the wonderful ladies manning the sign-in booth), getting my name tag and loot bag. I then entered the main hall where the opening ceremonies would take place and took a seat.
Soon after, a man came up the stairs towards me and asked if I was Lucas, to which I replied that yes, I was he. He introduced himself as Taylor Dewey and said he had seen my Tweet the night before. We talked and it turned out he was one of the speakers whose talks I was planning on attending - once this came up, we discussed the topic he would be presenting and I learnt some background info which helped me out when it came time for the talk.
After meeting Taylor, I met another cool developer named Marko Heijnen who, as it turned out, had been part of a team to rewrite the image manipulation code in WordPress.
The day proceeded, and I went to various talks on neat subjects with fantastic speakers, meeting lots of interesting people along the way. I did get to meet Brent, who is a great guy that really made me feel welcome and part of the event.
The people I met all had an interesting story to share. I think this is something I see more and more as I spend more time in the “real world,” that everybody has a unique story to share and that they’re all worth listening to.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted and ready for a good meal and plenty of sleep. I didn’t attend the after party (much to my regret), mostly because I didn’t think I’d be comfortable in the environment.
Day 2: A Few More Sessions, and Reinforcing Connections
On the second day, I attended some more sessions and reinforced my connections which I had made the previous day. I talked with Patrick Johanneson, who is the developer for the website of the University of Brandon in Manitoba, a job which poses some interesting challenges which Patrick and I had a good time discussing.
The second day really ended up being a shorter version of the first (which is a good thing, I couldn’t take two full-day learning sessions in a row). At the end of the day, closing ceremonies were held, in which I got an extra T-Shirt (in my size, even) and saw the end of a great event.
At the end of the conference, I had learnt a bunch, but more importantly, I had met a lot of really good people. The developers that I met at WCTO are truly my peers. With them, I can hold discussions that I value and build relationships which are strong and rewarding.
Thanks to the folks who went out of their way to sit down and talk with me, it did wonders in making me feel welcome and comfortable at the event. After all, being one of the youngest people in the room can be a little daunting! You are all great people who I hope I can remain in touch with.
I am so glad I went to WCTO this year, it was an unforgettable experience that I will definitely do again. Perhaps in future years I’ll even present!