Yesterday, I gave a presentation at DevWorld Australia on the design and development process of Apple Watch apps with WatchKit, called ‘Intimate Interactions on Apple Watch’.
Last year I attended the conference as a student, and attendee. At the time I was desperately tearing my hair out trying to find my ‘groove’ as a developer. I attended a lot of really inspiring, interesting and informative talks from people that I’ve since become great friends with. At one point I sat down in a corner, pulled out my iPhone and opened my to-do list.
‘Write a talk for DevWorld 2015’
I gave myself the task of writing something for the next year, and it seemed so far fetched that there was no way I’d accomplish it, but I’d at least give it a try.
I put that to-do task out of my mind until earlier this year when I'd hit ‘Submit’ on an application to give a talk at DevWorld 2015. Despite all the added stress of trying to piece together something remotely legible and worthwhile for an audience, this was a great opportunity for me to work on a very specific tool in my development tool chain - my confidence.
There are a lot of people I know that would love nothing more than the opportunity to stand on a stage, be given a microphone and enough time to talk uninterrupted to an audience. I’m not typically an outrageously confident person in comparison with my peers. My lack of formal education in software development constantly irks me into what I consciously know is an unwarranted sense of imposter syndrome.
I decided not to let fear and confidence overrule my life and instead to over come it. Whether I failed or not didn’t quite matter, just that I pushed through the barrier and ended up a better developer on the other side.
So I spent a few weeks thinking about my talk, writing it, iterating it and working with a designer to make it look less like a colourblind developer had spilled a bucket of paint over some scribbled words.
Throughout this process I found myself learning quite a lot about myself as a developer, and the extent of what I actually do know about things that I didn’t think I actually knew. Which is really encouraging. Surprisingly, I found myself learning a lot even just simply by going through the motions of teaching others what I know and have learned.
Yesterday I ticked off my to-do list task, and accomplished another milestone. With my goals and milestones as a metric I’ve found that I am improving as a developer a lot faster now than I once was, and yet there is still a long way to go.
Yes the great people I work with are helping with that, but what has helped me the most is forcing myself into situations that make me scared, take me out of my comfort zone and force me to do something I usually wouldn’t. Like writing a talk about building software and then presenting it to a room full of developers most likely a lot smarter than I am.
It turned out really great, as you would expect from the really encouraging and positive community at DevWorld. Since my talk I’ve spoken to a lot of interesting developers building new and exciting things with WatchKit and I've been asked a few intriguing questions.
If you’re like me and constantly trying to push yourself and your development to the next level, I recommend finding a really great community that you can contribute to and converse with. Present a talk on something you’re passionate about, talk to people that are just as passionate and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.