Sunday, March 15, 2015

Conferencing

For the longest time, I've been use to just representing myself and no one else. The repercussions of things I say or do would fall entirely on me and only me. Ohh how the times are a changing. I spent the last two weeks at two separate conferences. One of them was for work and the other one was for an organization that I volunteer for. Seems that ever since I got DACA, my musings on this blog are focused on work and my professional life, which makes sense. For the longest, I worked only as an independent contractor, free lancer or only brought on for short periods of time for projects. Now I'm finally at a place of work in which I'm getting support to develop professionally and I don't feel like a charity case.

I love my job and the work that I do there. That's why I stepped it up at the conference I attended. I balanced my outfits to be professional but also casual enough so I could navigate different spaces and use specific points of clothing as conversation starters. I mean, who wouldn't want to talk to the guy wearing hello kitty vans, ama I right? I did the same at the other conference because it made packing outfits easier and I needed layers cause I was in some cold ass places. It was my first attending both of the conferences and oddly enough, I presented at both. The first was more on that tip of my communications work and the second was on the organizing I do for fun with bikes. 

Having attended comic book conventions for years, attending conferences is a sinch for me. Although, I like the conferences that feature cosplay. However, at both conferences I was one of the few folks of color navigating those spaces. Those kind of situations always lend themselves to awkwardness, but it really can't be helped sometimes. There's this weird dynamic at conferences. We're all there for the same reasons, more or less, yet we ignore each for the better part. Outside of allotted spaces for folks to sit and make idle small talk, you gotta go outta your way to meet folks. 

All awkwardness aside, I took came away from these conferences with issues I need to reflect on and discuss with others. Aside from the unbalanced representation of women and people of color and how those dynamics can play out, my biggest take away is that I'm ahead of the curve. For all the different panels and sessions I attended, I picked up a few new tricks here and there, but nothing impactful. When it comes to the skills I have accumulated, I've always been on that DIY/popular education tip. As a result, I never placed any other values to my skills because they were communal and the lack of formality. I'm use to others touting their degrees, internships, and previous jobs when talking about their skill sets. Mean while, I'm all over here watching tutorials on youtube, but fuck it. I'm on the same level as them, aren't I? Damn skippy.          

I also had to be intentional with why I was there and who I was representing. It's easy enough for me to turn things on and mingle with folks around me. Make small talk here and there long enough to move on to another conversation with another random person. It's draining because you have to put yourself out there, but I will say it's worth it. Get to meet nice folks from different parts and you get into some interesting stories. Booze helps with that. That being said, I enjoyed my conference experiences mostly because of the individuals I was with. They made it that much more fun after hours, but also in connecting with others as well. While I didn't take much away in new skill sets, I'm looking at hosting my own next time around.  



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