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Was it worth paying to attend Alteryx Inspire Europe 2019?

Short answer:

Yes! I met some new faces (but not too many that I felt overwhelmed), I went to some cool talks and I got to understand a bit more about how the Information Lab works.

Longer answer…

I only decided to go to Inspire about 6 weeks before it happened. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things and I thought maybe I should “save it” and go to a conference once I’m further along in my Data School journey. Then I realised that was foolish, and as Ravi says, JFDI. So what did I get out of it?

Asking a question at the end of a talk

I know this will sound silly, but I will usually talk myself out of asking a question after a talk. With Hanna‘s help though (literally forcing my arm into the air), I managed to overcome that barrier! What’s more, straight after my question, the next one was asked by an ex-colleague of mine. We met up after the talk and both agreed that this time last year, neither of us would have had the confidence to ask those questions. Sometimes I forget just how far I’ve come, and I’m so grateful for how much the Information Lab has helped my personal development in just 6 months 😊

Seeing the Information Lab in a wider context

I had heard that we would be doing training this year instead of having a stand, but as a conference newbie that didn’t mean much to me. The way the venue was set up, all the talks were on the ground floor, whilst all the stands were another level down. This meant that, generally, there were more people in the areas where the talks were. From what I saw, the stands didn’t seem to get too much engagement. Contrast that with the long queues for all the training that the Information Lab put on and it suddenly became clear to me why we did it! Everyone seemed to know and respect the Information Lab, which was exciting to be a part of! It was also really useful to observe how colleagues interact with clients/potential clients etc, which was a great learning opportunity.

Networking

Ok I’ll hold my hands up and say that I don’t think I made the most of the networking opportunities. It’s still not a great strength of mine for sure! Having said that, I at least got to meet some more of our European team, as well as chatting to a few new people here and there. Although, despite the newness of the situation, I did feel pretty comfortable at Inspire. I felt like I belonged there, which is a massive contrast to how I used to feel going to big events in my old job. So next time around, if I make more of a conscious choice to do more networking then I’m sure I’ll do a much better job!

The talks themselves

The talks were definitely a mixed bag. One session I went to on Advanced Reporting broke a lot of basic visual best practice rules, which was a bit disappointing. I also found the “use case” sessions were a bit too high level, talking around the problem rather than how they actually used Alteryx to solve it, so that’s a good learning for future conferences. Other than those two talks though, every other one I went to was awesome! I could take away one or two tips/tricks that I didn’t know before and really enjoyed the content. In particular, I’m definitely looking forward to playing with the Optimization Tool a bit more, after Phil Mannering‘s talk!

Doing the conference “my way”

Since I was taking my own time to be at the conference, it was nice to feel like I had the freedom to only go to what I actually wanted to. For example, I arrived at lunchtime on Wednesday, since none of the talks jumped out at me and I wanted to go to a yoga class. Did I feel, absurdly, a bit guilty? Yes, but I knew I would be sticking around for drinks that evening, so it was my way of practising a bit of self care to make sure I didn’t exhaust myself prematurely. So for anyone in a similar situation for future conferences, don’t beat yourself up! Maximize your enjoyment of it, rather than maximizing the time you spend there.

Will I go to Amsterdam for Inspire 2020 next year?

Absolutely! I would love to be a speaker at Inspire Europe next year. Going to the talks made me feel realise talking at a conference isn’t as scary as it sounds and I think I could do a good job. Equally, I would love the opportunity to retake the expert exam. I really enjoyed the challenge this year and came a lot closer than I expected (getting 2/6 rather than the required 4/6). Throw in a more conscious effort to do some networking and a city I’ve never visited before and how can I resist?

Jenny Martin

London

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