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Because the mobile world moves so fast, everybody at Phunware works hard to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. I’m sure it’s the same in your world. That’s what makes conferences so important.

I’m serious! Conferences offer a lot more than just networking. They’re a really great way to take a deep dive into specific areas of your business—alongside some of the best and brightest—so you can get inspired and informed all at the same time.

Three weeks ago, Phunware Senior QA Engineer Pavan Kovurru and I went to the Selenium Conference (“SeConf” for short) in Austin. Selenium is an important testing tool that our Product QA team uses to make sure everything we develop at Phunware works properly. Pavan and I attended SeConf for the opportunity to upgrade our Test Automation knowledge and implement the latest tech into our codebase. But we also learned a lot that translates to any conference you might go to.

  1. DON’T miss the keynote speeches.
    These are usually presented by true visionaries, and the insights revealed illustrate why they are leaders in their field. For example, one of the keynotes at SeConf was presented by Jim Evans of Salesforce.com, who gave a really engaging personal history of his 25 years in the software industry. For many in the audience who weren’t even born when he began his career, Jim’s talk provided incredible perspective from someone who’s been deeply involved in the open-source Selenium project for years.
  2. DO treat every break as another opportunity to learn.
    Whether it’s time for coffee or lunch (or tacos, because it’s Austin), each break is a chance to meet someone and discover something new. During a break at SeConf, a fellow attendee opened my eyes to what it’s like to start a tech career as the only Automation Tester in a team of 15 developers—and the only female, to boot! (And I thought my job was tough…)

  3. DO divide and conquer whenever possible.
    If you’re not going solo, plan out the conference with your teammates so you can cover as many interesting talks as possible. Afterwards, you can share notes and discuss what you learned. This way, your team can cover more territory, which benefits everybody. Pavan and I definitely approached SeConf this way—and some of the most notable talks we attended were also recorded:

  4. DON’T multitask.
    This one may sound counterintuitive, but resist the urge to hop on your laptop and work on other stuff during talks. There is a reason why you chose to spend time at a conference. Your computer and work will still be there waiting for you after the talk. Make good use of that time to be fully present, so you can take everything in.
  5. DO remember that knowledge is like happiness—it’s meant to be shared.
    This may be the most important tip I can give you: Share as much about what you’ve learned with your entire team and your company. One of the things Pavan and I shared with the Phunware QA team was inspired by a panel given by the CTO of Appli Tools, in which he talked about using his company’s own tools to test its highly complex visual test automation service. Following the panel, we successfully completed a proof-of-concept using Appli Tools to compare how different devices render mobile pages across many versions of test builds. After sharing what we learned with our team, Pavan and I helped save everybody time and effort—and saved the company money.

In the end, the whole Product QA team benefitted from Pavan’s and my attendance at SeConf, so it was more than worth our time. Want to know where Phunware will turn up next? Check out our upcoming conferences and events. Hopefully, we can meet up over some coffee (or maybe a taco…).

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