Why should an engineer speak at a conference if they are no longer paid for it

Why should an engineer speak at a conference if they are no longer paid for it

Everything is changing, and so are the tasks facing the conference. Therefore, the GolangConf program committee is expanding the speaker pool to attract “fresh blood”. We are looking for new people who have never performed with us before, and not only with us.

These searches have already contributed to interesting results. In the last 10 years, the attitude of potential speakers to participation in conferences has changed. In many ways, because employers value him less and reward him materially. In the past, premiums were paid for participation in conferences and regular speakers were given a raise. Now, maybe it’s a long crisis and the whole world situation, but employers have changed their position.

And the voice “why do it if it is underestimated” can be heard quite loudly today. But the program committee has something to answer for.

The connection between performances and increased income didn’t go anywhere, it just became less obvious. But let’s not talk about money, but about the other side of power. First of all, about meaning and joy (of course, in a professional sense). They cannot be bought, but are relatively easy to achieve. It is enough to strain the will and make a report at a professional conference. Of course, this is not the only way, but it is one of the most effective in terms of effort/result ratio. Therefore, let’s understand how it helps in self-realization, increasing the professional level, including profit.

What will you get from speaking at conferences that money can’t buy?

The feeling that the world is big and full of interesting things

We spend most of our waking hours at work. And sooner or later we find ourselves locked in a cycle of the same tasks, questions and problems. This inevitably happens when the level of incompetence is reached, see Peter’s principle.

But the market does not offer to mention that the everyday world and boring duties are only part of an exciting adventure. Quite the opposite! We are paid to effectively hang out in our native swamp. We take in more air and dive deeper to unearth more problems. Look around, distract yourself and learn something new, especially in a professional sense? There is neither time nor energy left for this. Therefore, a trip to a conference with a presentation helps as a breath of fresh air.

Why not just go to a conference to listen to others?

It’s very simple, so it stops working by the third time. Tested many times. Life changes only by making efforts! The greater the effort, the greater the change.

Ability to develop industry

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re running startups, working on a big project, or just a highly qualified IT specialist at your place. For different reasons, but you have equally little influence over the technical decisions that are made as part of your day-to-day work. Regardless of grade and position. Large projects have tremendous inertia, and startups rarely allow themselves anything other than the result/resources ratio.

Personally, it is difficult for me to come to terms with this. I started in the days when the key to success was the ability to learn new things quickly, and not to pull the strap. But the period of explosive technological growth is probably over. The time has come for balanced decisions and proven technologies.


I like to develop new things, just in case, to implement new things.

And it turns out that it is much easier to convince the business to allocate resources to something new if this new thing is discussed at conferences! This is my personal experience.

Do you want to develop your own DBMS instead of PostgreSQL? Or change the gloomy GO to the charming RUST? Tired of writing the web in JS? Make the topic sound. The industry has not yet completely petrified, there is a chance to influence and direct. It works so far.

Pumping seniority competencies

Vasyl Romanov read a report at GolangConf as part of HighLoad++ 2023 “How to become a senior”. Very good report! And it contains an important thought for my article. Even two!

First, seniority is not about knowledge. It’s about getting things done and solving problems. Our affairs today are such that they cannot be handled by one person. If you are a senior you work in a team, and even lead a team. For this you need social skills. In particular, the skill of being persuasive. Few things improve this skill better than preparing a presentation.

And the second important thought — to be a real senior, you must be known by everyone, and everyone must know you. The more senior your role the less likely it is that “everything” will be limited to your team and your immediate boss. Starting from a certain level, the problems facing you will inevitably reach the level of communication between companies. You want this level, don’t you?

And the speaker’s room is big and small offline conferences are one of the best ways to see people and show yourself.

If your report is good (and why make a bad one?) and an interesting topic, you pump up your reputation, both with the industry crowd, and with your colleagues, and (surprise!) with your employer. Reputation, I remind you, can only be ruined for money, it is pumped differently.

Pumping up personal power

At one time, I was amazed at how people outside of IT perceived stories about my daily activities. Like magic! In no fantasy sense.

So there are reasons. The profile skill of a programmer is fantasy. Any thing that we do, we must first imagine, imagine in all the details, invent it. Then we have to make passes with our hands in a strictly defined order! and, thereby, literally, kill our fantasy in the information field of the universe. AND miracle! our fiction appears in the real world, interacts with people and objects… Exists!

Just like mages in fantasy novels, our personal power is directly proportional to the complexity of the model we can hold in our heads without distortion. Just like in fantasy novels, we have to fit our fiction into the world around us, without violating its laws, so that the world does not reject our creation. In the same way, our power depends heavily on self-confidence and the ability not to know doubts.

Creating a report and public speaking is as similar as possible to creating a software product with one important bonus: you get feedback from the community. Feedback from society is important for all of us, except for autistics, but my article is not addressed to them.

Pick up any book on the psychology of learning (also, as we understand it, a fantasy of sorts) and see for yourself: reinforcement learning works, and non-reinforcement learning works No.

You can spend years reading source codes and manuals, writing tests and benchmarks. Memorize processor codes and protocol headers. But one short story about the simplest things you know and an enthusiastic “Wow!” audiences – will give your brain a million times more reinforcement than all the sorcery and documentation combined.

Programmers, for the most part, are rational people, I would even say excessively rational. We tend to underestimate the importance of “psychological receivers”. So try it and see for yourself.

Well, you can’t buy it as a refrain. Not for sale.

Instead of an afterword

I have finished the article and am going to publish it immediately. And I can already directly hear the comments “I’m fine anyway”, “I work only for money”, “it’s all just a distraction from real work” and even “I don’t have time for this nonsense”. And I want to immediately answer such commentators: the choice is yours. If everything I explained above, you really do not need most likely, you are on the path of transformation from a person to a riding animal. And the riding animals, let me remind you, are sold for meat at the end of their career.

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