Last week I read a nice blog by Huib
Schoots. He raises the question: "Why go to
the EuroSTAR conference". In his blog he states that attending
conferences can be rewarding, but is also expensive. So we will
need to persuade our decision making managers that it worthwhile to
attend. As part of the program committee of this year's conference
I have tried with my fellow committee members to make the program
speak for itself. But more arguments might be needed.
As Huib Schoots quotes in his
blogpost: "Conferences typically are the place where
you can learn the latest developments and opinions, submerge
yourself into the testing mindset, confer with your peers, refresh
your ideas and expand your network". I agree with this, and for me
attending a conference is always rewarding. Better than by reading
books and articles, surfing the internet, and by attending courses,
conferences give you
- Food for thought
- Insight in the trends
- Opportunities for benchmarking your ideas and
This later is of great value to me,
since by comparing your experience you'll be better able to judge
the situations at your office. You thought you were doing a poor
job. Maybe you'll learn from speaking with your peers that you are
not doing so bad. You thought you were special, learn that others
are dealing with the same problems as your department. It is by
listening, talking and exchanging ideas that great solutions can
But this might not be enough. Huib
Schoots states: "The criteria for attending conferences I use are
almost the same I use for courses. Roughly these criteria are: do
we have budget, does the testers need the course and is this the
best way to gain the knowledge?"
Good questions, and to be honest
conferences are not always the best way. If you want very specific
knowledge one topic, a course or book might be more efficient. And
forums create opportunities for discussion.
Best benefit is gained if you know what
is on your organizations agenda. If you can explain how the
conference program aligns with this. One battle has already be won.
If you prepare questions for which you will seek answers during the
conference you will have a better focus during sessions and lunch
break discussions. Finally, discuss with your manager how you will
share your thoughts and conference experience once returned. Make
sure it triggers discussion about the profession and makes other
aware of how and why the testing is done in your organization.
Opportunities like these are often rare in the hectic daily work,
but can be very inspirational, help teambuilding and forces the
employees to think about their work too.
Finally attending conferences triggered
me to be aligned with the needs in the organization. Learned me to
be more pro-active and to have an opinion. Made me aware of the
richness and limitations of my experience and learned why others
might have different test-believes. Finally it learned me to find
the words needed to talk about all these items. I believe these
thing make me a better professional.