“Project Alloy” is a nonprofit organization that works towards more diversity and inclusion in tech. They do this by offering grants to attend technical conferences to people with underrepresented backgrounds that are at the start of their careers. This year they worked together with the AWS community “We Power Tech” to invite people to attend re:Invent 2019.
As a woman in tech still at the beginning of my career, I fell perfectly within their category and was lucky enough to be selected to attend. (Huge “Thank You!” there to the responsible communities!) It was my first time attending a conference of this size, and it was seriously impressive. I prepared by filling my calendar to the brim with interesting sessions and workshops from the catalog, as well as a good amount of networking events – some which were provided by “We Power Tech” itself.
I arrived in Vegas later than expected due to a storm, so unfortunately I missed the WPT Orientation on Sunday night. A shame, I heard it was good! My first morning was mainly filled with figuring things out: from as simple as buying a US sim card to registering for the conference and finding a way to get around – the easiest (but not the fastest) turned out to be walking by the way. At the start of the afternoon my first planned sessions came around. I specifically loved the Chalk Talks. The sessions were very interesting as well from a technical perspective, but I really liked the way the chalk talks let you interact with the speaker(s) and audience.
Then we had the first keynote, an amazing experience altogether. Just to see so many like-minded people fit into one room, knowing that it’s still just a fraction of the conference attendees, was spectacular. Content-wise I tried to focus on what could be interesting to implement at the customers I’m currently working for. The bulk of the day ended up mostly being networking and a coworker invited me to join some meetings with AWS teams. As a conclusion I attended the WPT drinks and the BeNeLux drinks. Both allowed me to meet some very interesting new people and catch up with others.
Aside from the many other sessions I attended, one of the highlights was the “Women in Identity, Security, and Privacy” gathering. Although I had the feeling the accent was less on AWS and more on identity, security and privacy (a bit out of line with my other sessions) it was very interesting. There were a couple lighting talks giving by women in these lines of work, and it was just a very interesting group of people to mix with. This year was the first time they were organizing it, and I would love to see repeat sessions of this at the next re:Invents.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I would love to go again! It was refreshing to be part of such a large community, and although women were clearly still underrepresented, to always feel included.