Sunday, January 13, 2013

What's a Recruiter Doing In a CodeMash Precompiler?

As I walked into Brandon Satrom and Clark Sell's HTML5 workshop on Wednesday morning, I asked myself the same thing. I was nervous about attending CodeMashSure, I've been learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I even have an app I want to build. But I'm not a professional software developer. I'm a technical recruiter.

Normally, I love attending conferences, user groups and other tech events, and am completely comfortable at them. I catch up with friends, meet new people and have interesting conversations. I always leave full of new knowledge and ideas. But I'm usually a sponsor or organizer. I sit behind a company display, or work the registration area, or bring pizza to the "real developers".

At CodeMash, I was stepping away from my usual, comfortable role. Armed with curiosity, two Girl Develop It (GDI) classes and random code knowledge, I was attending as a developer. And that scared the crap out of me. Here I was, a newbie and a hobby developer, surrounded by people who do this stuff for a living. I admit that knowing how poorly developers can view recruiters didn't help. Some developers think that none of us recruiters know that Java and JavaScript are different and that all we care about is making as much money off of them as possible. I was afraid people would find out how little knowledge I have or what I do for a living, and tell me I had no right to be there.

I am happy to report that my fears were completely silly.

The GDI HTML/CSS & JavaScript classes I had taken, and my own reading and experimentation, were a great foundation for the precompiler. After a recap of the technologies, Brandon and Clark gave a broad overview of useful resources and tools. They also discussed how to handle browser and device compatibility, and touched on some fun stuff you can do in the newer experimental browsers. My only frustration was that I couldn't complete the labs. The wifi connection was spotty and I didn't have Git installed on my machine.

As for me being a recruiter, no one seemed to care about that either. If anything, I was encouraged to keep doing what I'm doing. I got some great advice for connecting with developers that I find on LinkedIn and job boards. I also had some entertaining discussions about dumb things recruiters do when contacting candidates and dumb things candidates do when looking for jobs. It was nice to be around people who had a sense of humor about themselves.

Once I realized that no one was going to tear me down for my skill level or my profession, I relaxed and enjoyed CodeMash. I focused on learning as much as I could. I selected sessions that were geared to my skill level and the technologies I'm learning. I spent time chatting with people at meals, in the hallways, while gaming and in the hot tub. I learned as much during those times as I did in sessions. I also made sure to visit sponsor booths to thank them for their support. After all, I've been in their shoes and will be in them again.

I'd like to thank the CodeMash community for encouraging a newbie developer and making her feel so welcome. I came back from Sandusky completely exhausted. I blame all the ideas bouncing around my head at the end of each day. I know the late-night gaming sessions didn't help either. I also came back completely recharged. As a recruiter, I'm ready to keep connecting with tech professionals and getting to know them and their goals before trying to hire them. As a developer, I'm ready to start working on that app, make time for some local hack nights and see where it all takes me.


  1. Cassandra, I'm so glad to hear your fears were silly. I think one of the best things about conferences like Code Mash and That Conference ( although bias of course ) is the people and the community which surrounds it. It's not just about the sessions but what the session will provoke as a result of it. I love nothing more than finding someone who ISN'T doing it day in and day out. This year I meet a 16 year old, who did a talk on C# on the GPU. Pretty crazy, awesome.

    As you know our labs are on GitHub so the conversation doesn't have to stop just because our precompiler did.


  2. The community is one of the many reasons I love working in tech. We have so many opportunities to learn. I'm also finding that it's a very small world, but not a closed-off one. People are generally welcoming and encouraging to newbies.

    Thanks for the reminder on the labs. I want to go back through them, and play with some of the sites I bookmarked as well.