RenderATL is THE ultimate tech conference experience: An interview with A Bearded Dev on his journey there

A Bearded Dev is from Columbia, SC, and is an avid anime lover. He spends most of his time learning JavaScript and building static websites for clients. He has recently started diving more into back-end frameworks to lean into building full-stack applications.

Harvey Samuel, A Bearded Dev
A Bearded Dev is also a bearded dev

This week I had the great pleasure of talking with one of my mentees, Harvey Samuel AKA A Bearded Dev. He was at RenderATL this past week while I was at home sad and I just had to interview him about his time there!

Nyasha: Tell me a little about what RenderATL is in your own words and how you felt going into it?

A Bearded Dev: RenderATL is culture itself!! Render is an amazing conference that combines black culture and the tech community. For me it highlighted what I am most excited about, seeing people who look like me, doing what I will be doing! It provides an avenue for a subgroup of individuals to truly feel a part of a whole. Going into it I was BEYOND nervous lol. It was my first tech conference so that carried its own weight, but also the sheer scale of it.

Nyasha: So awesome! Also, you were able to get a scholarship to attend right? Could you tell me a little about that?

A Bearded Dev: Absolutely! I was able to attend this year as a scholarship recipient. I was gifted a ticket to attend RenderATL 2022 through a form submission. The form I submitted included my contact information and I believe a short paragraph regarding my interest in participating. There were a few attendees that received scholarships. We had a brunch on Wednesday, June 1st. I wasn’t able to attend because I got into town later than anticipated due to traffic and other things, but the scholarship provided an all-inclusive access pass which granted me access to the talks, and the after-hours events, free of charge. The only thing I was responsible for was the drinks I had after a certain time, my accommodations while there, and my travel.

Nyasha: So amazing! I absolutely love that the organization tries to make itself available to everyone!

What were some new and/or interesting things you learned about?

A Bearded Dev: I got to attend many talks, but the ones that really stood out to me and sparked my interest to dive further in…we only get 30 mins on each talk…was concepts on building on the side of your career. I got to spend some time listening to game devs about how they were building simple mobile games to learn new skills and generate income. I got to attend a talk about the relationship between mentors and sponsors and how both are two-way streets. That one really sits with me because it outlines the value of having/being a mentor or mentee, but it also outlined how many fall short of their true potential. How sponsorship is the better option and provides the most value to all parties. I could go on in-depth, but Scott Hanselman does it much more eloquently lol. I learned about React error boundaries and how to catch often missed edge cases. I learned about how accessibility can become integrated seamlessly into your building (sites, games, features, etc.). I caught a glimpse of Big-O and algorithms and so much more!! I jotted so many notes with things that I will deep dive into later!

Nyasha: What was the best part? What was the not-so-best part?

A Bearded Dev: The best part was THE FOOD lol I’m kind of biased because I’m a foodie, but I loved the food. The networking and talks were a close second, but when I saw that meals were included…I WAS SOLD lol

Picture of Beef Patty, Jerk Chicken, Peas and Rice, Cabbage and curry
This meal was provided by Irie Mon Cafe in Atlanta, GA
(I confirmed, none made it back to South Carolina)

A Bearded Dev (Cont.): One not-so-great thing was the traffic lol I’m a small-town yokel (I kid) lol but going from the business of where I’m from and the hustle and bustle of ATL was a big change….parking was atrocious and expensive. 

Nyasha: I completely understand. Atlanta is one of my favorite cities but driving and parking is like a game of Mario Kart.

How does RenderATL compare to other meet-ups/tech conferences you have gone to?

A Bearded Dev: As far as other meet-ups, this was my first!! I believe that it set the bar really high with the number of activities and networking opportunities. I’m honestly already planning my trip to RenderATL 2023 already lol. I learned so much, not just from the talks, but the EXPERIENCE as a whole, that I will implement my next go-round and look forward to sharing with others (newbies and dinosaurs alike lol…I kid). It was an amazing experience, to say the least.

As you can see, A Bearded Dev had a great time

Good food, good people, and good tech talks. RenderATL was an amazing celebration of black culture, music, and tech. It was open to everyone and had a crew that excelled in what I see as an open and accessible conference. I am happy and in awe that A Bearded Dev was able to experience this outpouring of hospitality and kindness that the Atlanta tech scene is known for. I know that I will not miss next year! And you shouldn’t either.

Harvey Samuel, A Bearded Dev, and Danny Thompson
A Bearded Dev and Danny Thompson

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Nyasha is the Editorial Director at MasterWP and a software developer at Howard Development & Consulting, the company behind WP Wallet.

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