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

After looking for some breakfast I went on with my day.

 

The first day was full of workshops one was for resume/social media/LinkedIn and one was about handling difficult conversations. I went to the latter because my resume works for me (for the most part), and difficult conversations is something that everyone has to face at one point or the other.

 

I then went to the newcomers introduction but was late, however I got to meet some nice people due to that! We were advised in that session to talk to people we don’t know, are different, or people that we usually won’t talk to.

 

Then it was the opening of the career fair and desserts. I spent most of the time at the Outreachy booth talking to people, alongside Sage and fellow Outreachy alums. It was interesting answering the questions I got, some were hard but I think I did a great job!

This is another way for someone to improve in public speaking, engaging with people at a booth. This will give you a different experience that you can’t get on stage.

 

DAY 2

 

I had my breakfast while listening to the plenary session, “Changing the Way We See Things: Designing Technology for People with Low Vision” by Shiri Azenkot, Assistant Professor of Information Science at Cornell University.  I stayed a bit for the 2nd plenary talk then I had a break before attending the proceeding workshops. My favorite workshop throughout the conference, was “Taking on the technical interview” which happened in day 2.

technical interview workshop

 

After that workshop I went ahead to the booth to help. Sometimes I’d take a break and walk around at other booths to see what’s going on. Things were always busy.

 

DAY 3

 

Had my breakfast then went for some plenary talks. I then took a break then went back during lunchtime and listened to some talks. My lunchtime was usually spent around people I did not know, but that was a good way to get myself out of my comfort zone and get to meet some new people.

tapia sponsor list

 

At some point I went on to say farewell to Sage as they left back home. I then attended a workshop that spoke about how to get paid as an open source contributor then proceeded to prepare for the banquet/dinner. I went to the banquet, it was interesting to see how one is like.

 

Overall it was a decent experience. The people I met, and the chance to support a non profit that I believe in were the best parts of the experience.

 

(1) Outreachy citation source: Wikipedia

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