Laracon black and white photo of conference attendees

Laracon 2016 Takeaways!

I recently returned from my first Laracon, Northern Kentucky’s largest Laravel developer conference, and I had an incredibly interesting and informative trip!

Whether you’re thinking of attending a Laracon in the EU or the US, here are a few takeaways from my time there that you might find helpful:

Don’t be self-conscious. Everyone is there to learn!

As a developer with almost a decade of PHP development experience but fairly new to Laravel, I was concerned most Laracon attendees would be through-and-through Laravel gurus and I’d feel like a bothersome aspiring shishya asking ignorant questions.

Happily, I was wrong! The speakers were definitely as proficient and knowledgeable as expected, but the attendees varied widely in experience with Laravel. I was pleased to be part of many conversations between folks confronting various hurdles as they learned more about Laravel.

Laracon is a marathon, not a sprint!

You have three days at Laracon. There’s hundreds of people to meet and innumerable things to learn. If it starts seeming overwhelming, just remember that the organizers scheduled several breaks per day for your benefit, and a little preparation can help you recharge more efficiently!

  1. Before you leave, check out a map of the area around the venue so you feel comfortable taking walks around for air.
  2. When you first arrive at the venue, keep an eye out for places to sit and relax outside the auditorium. Sometimes just sitting near a window and looking over your schedule for the first few minutes of a break can help you make the most of the rest of it.

My biggest energy-management misstep this year was traveling into Louisville the morning of the first day of Laracon. This turned out to be the mental equivalent of jogging to the starting line of the Music City Marathon because it’s only a few miles away and parking is terrible. It seemed like an easy way to save money, but those hours of early morning travel started me off at an energy deficit that left me far less social than I’d have liked the first day. Next year, I’m definitely arriving at my hotel the night before so I can really get the best bang for my buck.

Learn from #Laracon

Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can open and search for #LaraconEU. It’s a great way to discover:

  • groups of attendees looking for new folks to join them for meals—no need to eat alone at #Laracon!
  • links to tools that presenters mention in their talks but forgot to include in the slides — the Twitter-savvy attendees will race to get those links posted first.

If you already use Twitter, even better! Make sure to create a Twitter list of all the folks you meet this year so you can keep up with them and their Laravel development accomplishments/joys/struggles/solutions year round! When you attend your next Laracon, you’ll hopefully get to meet up with them again!