Tapia 2018 Conference & Outreachy: My Experience

Tapia 2018 Conference & Outreachy: My Experience

Around 2016 was when I first heard of Tapia Conference, that and Grace Hopper Celebration. I applied to their scholarships back then, I did not get any. It was disappointing, but then something happened…

 

In 2018, an email landed in my inbox. It was a call to be sponsored to help Outreachy’s booth while also attending Tapia. I wasn’t exactly fitting the requirements, but I replied to it anyway. Usually I do not apply in such situations, but I remembered really wanting to attend this conference so I tried. I was surprisingly selected, and in disbelief. So I reached out to Sage Sharp who is the current Outreachy Organizer to confirm if they are sure about this. But yes it wasn’t a mistake, and they were more than happy to have me with them at Tapia! That’s how it happened, I started preparing for my trip to Orlando.

 

It’s encouraging when you have people that support and believe in you.

 

What’s Outreachy though and what’s the relation between it and me?

 

Outreachy (previously the Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women) is a program that organizes three-month paid internships with free and open-source software projects for people who are typically underrepresented in those projects. The program is organized by the Software Freedom Conservancy and was formerly organized by The GNOME Project and the GNOME Foundation.” (1)

 

Through the Outreachy program I got my first internship at Mozilla.

Outreachy gave me the opportunity to prove that I have what it takes to be a great technical intern. My mentor for the Outreachy Program, Peter Bengtsson who works at Mozilla saw the potential in me, the effort I placed, and gave me a chance. It was extremely competitive and overwhelming, but I did not give up and eventually I got selected.

 

So I couldn’t be more than happy to volunteer/give back to a non-profit that I believe in and played a pivotal role in my technical trajectory. All the employees from Software Freedom Conservancy and Outreachy that I’ve had the chance interact with, have been welcoming, and supportive. I’m glad that they create opportunities for people who want to stay involved.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Outreachy visit their site here -> Click.

 

If you are interested to read more about what I worked on during my internship, read this -> Click.

 

The Tapia Experience

 

Tapia is an interesting conference. At most tech conferences I have been it’s quite homogeneous, so it was interesting to finally be at a tech conference with so many people of African descent and of course other underrepresented people in tech.

 

DAY 1

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My Take on TakeOver Innovation Conference and Toronto

view-from-CN-Tower
This picture I took from the CN Tower makes me wonder if the picture on my blog’s template header is from Toronto.

 

Last month I attended the TakeOver Innovation Conference. Lately I have been mostly attending conferences as a Speaker, but this time it felt great to be on the attendee end. The conference took place in Toronto, Canada, and it was my first time being there. This is my personal take on my experience.

The conference program consisted of various talks in multiple industries. We learned more about how they are using emerging technologies such as block-chain, AR/VR and more in various sectors. Topics covered issues in Retail, Finance (such as VC), Media, Healthcare, Women in Tech and more.

What is TakeOver Innovation Conference?

According to the conference website, “TakeOver is TribalScale’s inaugural Innovation Conference”. The conference consisted of three tracks, human innovation, industry innovation and economic innovation. In specific, it had a focus on emerging technologies in tech and how they can or already foster innovation.

TribalScale is a digital firm specializing in the design and development of world class digital products.

One day when I came across TakeOver’s Conference and after taking a note of all the details I noticed they had a diversity scholarship to attend. On the 25th of September I got a congratulatory email that I had been selected to attend the conference. I was elated, but then I realized the conference is on the 2nd of October and there wasn’t much time left to plan, so this was the most impromptu travel I have ever had! The plan was to travel from Athens, Greece to Toronto, Canada. There was a lot of preparation to be done, packing, planning my budget and more. Luckily, TribalScale employees assisted me to book my flights and book accommodation for the duration of the conference giving me a couple of extra days to settle (thanks Ruth & Samantha for the assistance!)

Getting to Canada

This was my first time to travel to Canada. It was a long journey and being on the plane without company for so many hours is boring and uncomfortable. I realized that my flight had no TV screen to pass time in the plane, that was a bummer! I was very tired with all the planning so luckily I spent most of the time semi-sleeping during the Greek morning hours and I believe that is what helped me adapt faster to the Canadian Timezone.

Once I landed in Canada, some awesome family friends drove me to my hotel after first taking me to place to get some food. That helped a lot, as it made it easier for me. The transport system in Toronto works differently from the one in Athens but the train to get you from Pearson Airport to Downtown Toronto seemed pretty straightforward and not too complicated. Toronto is also very multicultural which I liked a lot. Read more