Is it worth bringing your kid to tech conferences?

I am back at school after attending the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle for the 3rd year, that means I am almost a veteran 😉 . There were a few major differences to the conference this year, the number 1 from a kids point of view being the new “Student Zone”. As well that, there were some changes to the Keynote and a few major technological breakthroughs that the sessions and 3 keynotes explored. Let’s get back to that number 1 difference, all the students at the conference 😉

Students at //Build

For the first time at a major tech conference, students were invited to attend and participate. This meant that instead of like last year where it was just me and lots of old people (sorry dad, love you) there were 500 students attending (and 6,000 oldies)! Microsoft allowed anyone with a ticket to bring a young family member to the conference, free of charge. I met a lot of kids and their ages ranged from 14 to 21 years.

So what did Microsoft have organised for us students?

We had a broad range of ‘student sessions’ to attend which encompassed ‘kid friendly’ sessions and a large designated area. The types of sessions ranged from learning basic coding skills, to career advice. One of the popular sessions was how to use the new “Minecraft education” program.

You can watch it all at https://mybuild.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions
Unfortunately the student sessions were not recorded.

To Microsoft
I’d like to make a suggestion to record some of the important student sessions. There have been a few times I wanted to show my teachers and friends some of the sessions I attended. Also, other parents that are considering taking their kids, might want a closer look into the program.

And the final question…

Is it worth bringing your kid to //Build?

My experience with the student program and “Student Zone” was extremely positive. The sessions ranged from simple to complicated so they covered all levels.

Because of my dad I was a bit lucky and attended Regional Director (RD) sessions which were really interesting. These RD sessions had Microsoft Vice Presidents and other executives who spoke to us about the up and coming news. My favourite was Alex Kipman who talked to us about the Hololens and as much I would love to talk about it, I have signed an NDA, so all I can say is the Hololens 2 is going to be amazing! 😉

I spoke to many adults and they often talked about their home and the travel time to get to the conference in Seattle. That effort seems to be the biggest factor for most people. The content for the adults is recorded and put online so this probably sparks debate with conference attendees as to the cost/benefit as there are arguments to be made on both sides. For me, there is so much value as a student at this conference and I seriously couldn’t recommend it more. If you are a kid at school, and in the US, the dates can be organised so that only 3 days of school are missed and the things I have learnt for the conference are worth way more than 3 days. As an Aussie, a long way from Seattle, and if you are basically anywhere else the world, you will miss more than 3 days of school (much to my mums dismay). However each year, even my mum, a stickler for rules, has spoken to me about the likely upcoming value and then agreed to my trip to the USA, only because of the value that the conference provides.

After returning to school I have had to try to catch up with the work I missed – which took me about 2 full weekends, but for me, 2 weekends was worth the conference!

| Ruby |

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