It's that time of year. The massive developer conference Amazon throws is right around the corner and every AWS minded developer is getting very excited. A full week of AWS sessions in Las Vegas is in store starting December 2nd. But re:Invent is about much more than the talks and parties.
It's a special place to be if you make any use of Amazon Web Services. In the neighborhood of 30,000 people will pack into Las Vegas for a dedicated week of AWS focus. Sessions will span not one, not two, but six different hotels and casinos. Not to mention the lunch hour is a masterpiece in logistics as they try to feed everyone.
It's a huge conference with a ton of cool and interesting things to check out.
You have your sessions, chalk talks, and whiteboard sessions during the day. Then at night, there is a party for everyone from pub crawls to hacking on self-driving RC cars. With the entire conference culminating to one final party, re:Play.
But for newcomers, the entire conference can feel overwhelming. You get sucked into the world of feeling like you need to learn everything. Your head starts to spin with all the content you are consuming for days straight. So with that in mind, I thought I would jot down the three tips I try to give every newcomer to AWS re:Invent.
Tip #1: Plan ahead
It sounds rather simple but it's critical to getting everything you want out of your time at the conference. This starts with booking your hotel early because they fill up fast. Nothing will wear you out more than all the walking you are going to be doing. So get a hotel that is hosting sessions so you can save a few steps.
Even if your hotel and flight are booked you're not done with your planning yet. Next up is getting your reserved seating in the sessions you want to attend. For the 2019 conference, the seating has already been open for a few weeks so sessions may already be booked.
Don't fear an already booked session though. There is always the waitlist option so if a seat clears up you can join. Also when the session is about 10-20 minutes away from starting, they open it up to walk-ins/waiting attendees as long as there is still seating.
Beyond getting to Las Vegas, having a central hotel, and planning out your session schedule, there is one more thing you should plan for. Plan to leave sessions that don't interest you. If you signed up for a session thinking it was going to be great but it ends up being a dud, get up and leave. Your spending your time and maybe even your money to be there, don't feel obligated to stay for something that doesn't interest you.
Tip #2: Take breaks
AWS re:Invent is a marathon, not a sprint. There is a lot of events and content packed into the four or five days you are there. Trying to consume it all at once without taking a breath is going to wear you out.
So when your planning your sessions, don't try to pack your day with back to back sessions. It's OK to have some time between your sessions where you soak it all in. When you are taking the time to soak it all in and catch a breath, step outside where there is some natural light and fresh air. Stale Casino air and no windows can get old very quick, so check back in with the outside world on the regular.
Then when your sessions during the day finish, don't feel obligated to partake in the late-night festivities. Making it all the way to Friday at re:Invent takes pacing yourself through each day and night so you can attack each day with a fresh mind.
Tip #3: Enjoy the space to focus on learning
My last point is more philosophical and less about re:Invent. Taking the time and spending the energy to attend a conference is no small task. For your employer but likely for yourself and your family as well. So enjoy the time you have taken to better yourself.
A lot of cool things always come out of re:Invent. You may walk out thinking of a new architecture that you can use. You could walk away with a new connection that opens a door you had never considered. Or you could walk away swimming in new ideas for how to use all the new services that got announced.
Whatever it may be, enjoy the time and space you have to focus on bettering yourself and your career. As exhausting as re:Invent can be, I always come back home motivated and hungry to take on new challenges.
If you are lucky enough to get to attend re:Invent this year, make the most of it. It's a whirlwind of a conference that is full of a ton of interesting things to learn. Beyond that, there is plenty of opportunities to network with folks that are as passionate about the platform as you are.
Remember to pace yourself, plan for the things you don't want to miss, and to give yourself the space to let things soak in.
If you're going to be at the conference, feel free to ping me on Twitter and let me know. I'm always game to meet up with folks in real life and chat about AWS, coding, or hang out in general.