The day started out like any other. My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., and I jolted out of my sound sleep. As I reached for my phone to … push? click? press? What do we do to snooze buttons now that they’re not actually buttons? Whatever the case, as I turned to hit my snooze button, I remembered that the day, in fact, wasn’t like any other. Today was WordCamp San Antonio.
Helping is a loose term, but I’ve been helping organize WordCamp San Antonio since mid-May when Wayne asked around the office for some help with the work. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to be doing, nor did I have any idea what WordCamp was, but I’d had some experience with WordPress and I was interested in lending a hand.
For the last couple months, I’d seen people on the organizing committee doing everything from connecting with sponsors to printing t-shirts, and I still had no idea what WordCamp was about. But I think the experience on Saturday gave me a better idea of what WordCamp is than any explanation ever could: WordCamp is about community.
I’d figured WordCamp was mostly a group of people getting together talking about <h1>s and SEO, but WordCamp, at its core, is about community. Community sponsors, community organizers, and community attendees. The beautiful part about it is that the community doesn’t stop at a city, a state, or even a country. The WordCamp community is one that stretches all across the world.
My fiancée and I arrived at Texas A&M San Antonio at 6:30 a.m. We got out of our car waiting for Wayne to show up with boxes of tacos, and we saw three volunteers waiting outside to make sure they were in the right spot.
I got to interact with people on social media that were elated to be a part of WordCamp San Antonio. They were so excited to come and share their knowledge, to come and learn, to come and give away shit tons of buttons, shirts, and stickers.
I saw people with full-time jobs, with husbands and wives, with kids, with pets, and hobbies gave up their time and a decent chunk of their lives for the last 8 months to put something together because they want to help people learn. That’s WordCamp.
As the sun rose, Pressers from all over the country trickled into the auditorium, and then keynote speaker Carrie Dils took to the stage to talk about ice cream. Err…decisions: making decisions for yourself, not giving visitors to your webpage too many decisions to make, or helping your clients make decisions about their site.
Then attendees went their separate ways to hear talks on everything from Rest API to Improv-ing your blog content. The variety of talks available at WordCamp offered something for everyone, from WordPress noobs to seasoned pros. One thing I definitely didn’t expect to see 60-70 year olds at this conference. It was crazy (and pretty awesome) to see such a wide age range at a conference about web development.
The business, beginner, and advanced tracks may have been a little far away from each other, but that was no problem. The TAMUSA campus was absolutely beautiful, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was definitely one of those 8 days out of the year in Texas when you can’t complain about the weather.
After all the great presentations, WordCamp ended with a panel discussion in the main auditorium. Attendees young and old bombarded the speakers with questions. The topic that really spoke to me most was that of getting into the business of web development and marketing. I, like a majority of people on the stage, don’t have a college background for the work we’re doing now. Garret Heath explained it better than anyone else, I think.
“The world is so different than it used to be. It’s now ‘Show me, don’t tell me,’ instead of people worrying about what kind of degree you have,” he said.
Everyone seemed to have their own answer on how to get into the biz, but what I ended up getting out of the conversation was work. Work work work work. Nothing in this world comes easy. Get out there. Be persistent. Don’t give up. This is great advice for anyone looking to get into any business, but especially web development and marketing.
I’m really glad I got to be a part of WordCamp San Antonio. A big thanks to everyone who took part in this, sponsors, organizers, volunteers, and speakers alike, and thanks for showing me what WordCamp is all about. I can’t wait for next year’s conference.