Last month, nearly half of Sparkbox journeyed to Columbia, South Carolina, for ConvergeSE 2017, a conference that promised to “explore the far corners of the infinite web.” The amalgam of Sparkbox presentations did just that, covering a variety of industry topics, from building a human-centered culture and putting humans back into business to creating CSS for multiple brands and refactoring a large codebase. In addition, Sparkboxer Drew Clemens joined the stage with Gap’s Teresa Aguilera to share The Story of Stitch: Gap’s Design System, a long-term Sparkbox-Gap collaboration.
While the primary reason for attending Converge varied for some Sparkboxers—we had workshop presenters, speakers, and those who went as attendees—the rich takeaway that there is immense value in taking time to connect with each other was universal.
Team Member Takeaways
For me, one major takeaway was that I learned a lot outside of sessions. Talking to other people in the industry taught me quite a bit about how developers do their work and what issues are facing the industry. I would recommend potentially stepping outside your comfort zone and sharing a meal with fellow attendees. Philip and I did this after our Modern CSS Workshop, and it was a great way to casually hang out with others, share experiences, and have meaningful conversations about our work.
ConvergeSE is one of my favorite conferences for many reasons, but chief amongst them are the people and the talks. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gone to Converge the past four years, and I’m always excited to meet new folks and connect with others whom I might only get to see once a year. There were a lot of great talks, but the two that stood out the most to me were Sam Kapila’s “Using Design to Improve Diversity & Inclusion” talk, and Tim Smith’s “Let’s Learn CSS Grid” talk.
Being new to the Sparkbox team, I’ve attended conferences in the past, but not one that focused on the tech industry. The atmosphere and topics were new to me, but the underlying themes at Converge were the same: fostering the creativity of ideas, diversity of staff, and happiness of people.
Conferences like Converge provide a physical opportunity to explore topics together. They give us the chance to take our faces out of the phones that have engulfed our lives and truly connect with people. It was great to spend time with our team, but even moreso, for our team to connect with all of you. We want to continue to dig deeper into the problems we all face, and there’s no better way than to do that face-to-face. In an effort to be more proactive about this, we were able to snag a room to host some “Deep Dive” conversations at Converge. This gave us an opportunity to get to know some of you, to learn from your experiences, and share some of our own. Similar to our “Collaborative Notes,” this is a thing we hope others will embrace—finding ways to take advantage of the sliver of in-person time we get will help us truly consider the issues we face. If you are attending an industry event in the near future, we’d be happy to share what worked and what didn’t from this first try. Whatever you do, look for opportunities to be intentional about connecting with the amazing people in this industry. We’ll all be better for it!