6 Things I Learned at my First WWDC and AltConf Experience
Life at Apptentive is never boring, and lucky for me, that meant being asked to take a last minute trip to San Francisco to volunteer at Alt Conf last week. AltConf, the alternative developer conference, is a community-driven event that runs in conjunction with Apple’s WWDC. On any given day, we saw over 1,000 attendees.
Even though I’m not an iOS developer, the target audience for the week’s events, I learned a lot at my first WWDC week. Here are six recommendations for first timers:
Talk to as many people as you can.
Really though. The week of WWDC you end up talking to (okay geeking out with) people from all over the world. So, start up a conversation at the crosswalk en route to Moscone. In all likelihood, the person next to you probably speaks the same iOS language you do, and always has an interesting story.
One of my favorite conversations was with an indie iOS developer who was from Germany, lives in Spain and is working on a new travel app. I walked about 4 blocks with him and learned a plethora of things- from what app he was developing to the best coffee shop he had found thus far.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Monday through Friday is a long conference. When you spend every day learning from some of the most innovative people in the industry, you are bound to get a bit overwhelmed with new information. Beyond that, there are parties and networking events all week long. While the after parties are an essential part of the WWDC experience, and a great opportunity to mingle with your fellow developers, make sure to pace yourself throughout the week. Occasionally calling it a night early can be in your best interest, especially if there is an early morning workshop you don’t want to miss.
Pack in layers.
The weather in San Francisco in June can change from 70 degrees and sunny to 50 degrees and foggy within the span of an hour. Make sure you pack appropriate clothing so you can walk around comfortably during the day, and also stay warm during the inevitable evening chill.
If you have the time, volunteer.
I spent most of the week volunteering at AltConf, a community driven event that was hosted at the AMC Metreon. I found that this was a rewarding way to immerse myself in the conference and meet some pretty amazing people along the way. Throughout the week, I did everything from check in attendees to announce speakers, all while getting a crash course in the world of Apple Development
Explore the city.
Don’t spend all your time within the three-block radius surrounding Moscone. Take the time to explore some of the incredibly diverse neighborhoods and restaurants in San Francisco.
I personally had the chance to stay in the Marina neighborhood, which meant early morning runs exploring the Presidio and a multitude of delicious dinner options. If you don’t mind a bus ride or a quick Lyft trip in the morning, staying a few minutes outside the downtown hub is a wonderful way to see more of the city.
Soak up the knowledge, but be smart about what sessions you attend.
WWDC and Alt Conf have endless opportunities to learn about almost any aspect of the tech world. However, make sure you pick the sessions that will be most beneficial to growing your professional and personal skill set. One day, I found myself sitting in an advanced technical session discussing Swift and Objective-C. I left the room feeling a bit bewildered and overwhelmed, instead of more informed.
Picking sessions that pertain to your skill set is critical. There is only so much information you can soak up in a week, so make sure you focus on sessions are meaningful to you personally.
My week at WWDC and AltConf served as an introductory course in the world of tech development, and I couldn’t of asked for a better way to learn the tricks of the trade. Our team at Apptentive will be back at WWDC in 2016, and we hope to see you there.