VMworld 2018: Lessons Learned

VMworld 2018 came and went in a flash. Not only was it my first time attending VMworld, but it was my first time at a tech conference, as well as my first time in Las Vegas.

There were a lot of lessons learned during VMworld 2018 for me, so I’ll try to summarize my experience and advice in a few quick lists.

Do:

  • Meet new people. For a conference full of nerds, these people are remarkably social and willing to talk to complete strangers. They collectively hold an ocean of insight that will go untapped if you don’t make those connections.
  • Participate in the hackathon. You may miss out on a party, but what you’ll get in return is time working on a project in small groups with some of the sharpest minds the conference has to offer. Simply choose a team doing a project related to something of interest to you; the learning will follow.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I was putting in a couple of miles per day, and although I was doing alright, I heard plenty of complaints of hurting feet at the end of day 1.
  • Drink lots of water. Whether you choose to imbibe at any of the parties or not, you are still likely to be much more active during the conference then you would be on a typical day. Stay hydrated.
  • Try to get the playlist that runs in the hands-on labs area, before sessions, and in the village. That playlist is amazing but I can’t find it anywhere, and my phone was having a hard time detecting what was playing.

Don’t:

  • Try to do it all. Take some time for yourself, and relax. Your brain can only take so much information at once. Pace yourself.
  • Stay in your comfort zone. I would argue that the connections I made at the conference are more valuable than the content of the sessions. Talk to the experts. Talk to other customers. Talk about problems you’re facing, recent victories, hobbies, whatever. Do the hackathon. Attend roundtables. Attending sessions is great, but if that’s all you do, you’re missing a large part of what the conference offers.
  • Attend 100 level sessions. These are largely geared towards managers or entry level administrators. If you’ve been working in vSphere for any amount of time, focus on 200 and 300 level sessions.
  • Go back to work on Friday. VMworld is incredible, but at the end of it, you’ll likely want to crash for a few days.

Takeaways:

My first VMworld experience was overwhelming, but incredible. That’s largely in part to my TAM. He put in a lot of work making sure I was getting into valuable sessions and attending events I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, or chose to participate in on my own. I credit him for helping me out of my comfort zone.  Attending VMworld has been something I’ve always wanted to do, and it did not disappoint. It has inspired a drive for improvement not only in the technical aspects of my day job, but also in my own contributions back to the community.

Cheers to moving forward.

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