A year ago, I had just finished the second year of my degree, failed to get a placement, and I was bored.
In between the odd trip into town and attempts to be productive, I had decided to go to a PHPNW meet up where someone was talking about needing help at the PHPNW10 conference. Being the cheapskate that I am, I didn’t want to pay for a student ticket and so offered my services to help out.
A year later I have been working in a great placement and have been to 3 PHP conferences. I’ve met a lot of very interesting and very knowledgeable people, and I learnt a great deal in the meantime.
PHPNW10 opened my eyes to a part of the web development community I never knew was there. It isn’t all about PHP. A lot of the conference talks and discussions look at standards, industry best practices and generally applicable technical skills which can easily be applied or translated into any development work that you may take on yourself in the future.
Regardless of whether you are looking to become a PHP developer specifically or want to do something else within the IT industry, there will be something here for you. Many of the delegates are developers but it is often false to assume that their primary language is PHP. The majority of people also have multiple roles which span from managing directors to system administrators, authors to gurus.
The people you meet will be happy to answer questions on how they got into the industry themselves, and their opinion on everything from their commutes to the types of projects they are working on or their issues running companies and dealing with clients day to day.
There is nothing like a PHP conference, a place where you are free to question everything and everyone and people are more than happy to suggest ideas and solutions to you.
The diversity of conference goers will shock you. Many who work for competing companies are all under one roof sharing experiences and solutions to issues they have come up against in their professional experiences.
The passion from the delegates rubs off on you, and I found myself more determined than ever to do well in my studies when I return to Uni.
Your next opportunity is right around the corner. So to answer the original question, YES PHPNW11 is definitely worth a bit of your student loan! Make the step.