Hackernoon logoThe good and the “humorous” of attending a big tech conference by@lilychendances

The good and the “humorous” of attending a big tech conference

Lily Chen Hacker Noon profile picture

Lily Chen

Software Engineer

“I feel like I’m about to go to the first day of school.”

I said out loud as I walked into the Moscone Center Tuesday morning.

A few coworkers and I got free tickets to the Google Cloud Next Conference. It was my first time attending a conference of that scale. They said there were over 25,000 attendees.

I had no idea what to expect, but I’ve certainly experienced a lot now.

1. Attendees = plethora of humans of the XY kind.

A week prior, I asked my boyfriend, who’s known as the “Cloud Guy” in our scene, what kind of people go to Google Cloud Next.

“Umm…men.” He said.

And oh boy he couldn’t have been more perfect with his answer.

This game is called “find the female engineers”

Having “Cloud” in the conference name, it shouldn’t be shocking that many talks are about infrastructure and operations. There are engineers. And then there are engineers interested in infrastructure, the so-called DevOps engineers.

DevOps engineers are a rare breed. It’s one thing to be interested in STEM, it’s another to be interested in the internal workings of Linux and Nginx.

I don’t know the exact men to women ratio in DevOps, but I’m willing to bet it’s even lower than the general software engineering ratio.

Not that there’s balanced gender ratio in tech, but the discrepancy between the volume of men and the number of women was noticeably greater than everyday life in the valley.

2. Crowds are denser than tourist traps.

There are lines for everything. For food, for getting inside, for escalators, for bathrooms, for talks, for… Wait, for bathroom? Yup. For some reason, there are still long lines for the women’s bathrooms.

Because of lines and crowd, it was taking 15 minutes to get from building to building that are across the street from each other.

3. Food is a first world problem.

At least there’ll be good food right?

Unfortunately, no. I had super undercooked rice in a Thai beef wrap for lunch. I’m not even picky about rice. When I say that’s bad rice, it’s actually bad rice.

Additionally, unless you line up right when the food court opens (11:30am), good luck getting anything that’s not a salad. If you’re a person that gets hangry like me, you’ve been warned.

4. Engineers from other companies are equally awkward.

Some companies are smart and sent their sales people to work the booth.

In truth though, it was a great experience. I would definitely go back again. (For free of course).

Now, let me shift gear and talk about the things that were pretty cool.

5. Google is trying to get you broke.

Of course selling is part of the conference. The developer advocates at Google are excellent at presenting the products in the best context. They make you want to buy everything. In fact, the company where I work is migrating from Azure to Google Cloud. But be careful though, don’t get too locked in. If you do, it’s going to be hard to get out.

6. What it’s like being a teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

I’ve never been to a famous person’s concert growing up, and so I never understood why teen girls lose their shit at Justin Bieber concerts. However, being in a room with Eric Schmidt, Jeff Dean, and Eric Lander finally helped me understand that a little.

Eric Schmidt, Eric Lander, and Jeff Dean discussing AI in medicine

My heart pumped fast, and my veins overflown with anticipation and excitement as these three accomplishment intellectual leaders took the keynote stage.

Professor Lander was my favorite professor at MIT. The passion and enthusiasm in his lectures were one-of-a-kind. The passion and enthusiasm in his discussion with Eric Schmidt and Jeff Dean about the role of AI in medicine was no different.

Though I haven’t touched biology in years, listening to his talk made me fall in love with the field all over again.

He is the most influential biomedical scientist in the world, and for very good reasons.

7. What it’s like being starstruck by people famous in the real world.

Wednesday evening event was a concert in AT&T park’s outside parking lot.

I almost didn’t go.

Wednesday was THE WORST. I woke up at 6:30am to go to the DMV, only to have a terrible time at the DMV. Then I rushed back to the conference, only to eat undercooked rice for lunch. Then I had to sit through hours of intense DevOps talks while being sleep deprived. I was ready to peace out when 7pm hit.

However, thanks to my FOMO, I dragged my ass out of the bed to go to the concert.

The Chainsmokers were playing and I’ve been obsessed with their “Something Just Like This” for months. I didn’t know they were going to play that song for sure, but it was a bet I was willing to make.

Long story short, I’m glad I went.

The food, for the first time ever at the conference, was amazing. Senior Sisig was giving out free burritos.

There were free beer, wine, and cocktails. There were arcade games, a ferris wheel, a Starship 2000 ride, and most importantly, free teddy bears!

Oh yeah, the concert itself was amazing too. They did play “Something Just Like This” with Andrew taking over the vocals since they didn’t have Chris Martin there.

I’ve never actually googled Chainsmokers, so I wasn’t familiar with the faces behind the name. I was pleasantly surprised by how handsome the duo were :)


And yes, the crowd would be way more packed at any other Chainsmokers’ concert.

The density of people here was more like ice than platinum. But that’s perfect for me, I’m too old for platinum anyway.

8. You will make unforgettable memories.

Like many worthwhile events in life, reflecting back on it is way more satisfying that being in the moment itself. When I think back, the dominant thoughts in my head are the amazing talks, the great events, and most of all, being in a room with people so smart I feel like a dumb fuck.

I am in no way affiliated with Google.


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