I’ve started having a read of Hit Refresh and it got me pondering my own story.
Like all good stories this one starts with heartache, I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship and I was looking for an escape. Drug, alcohol, none of those appealed, instead I escaped into the world of open source software.
Well this was 2009 and I was a .NET developer and open source was not really a thing in the .NET community, after all .NET Core was 6 years away and there was no NuGet.
I got involved in the Umbraco community, Umbraco being a .NET CMS that we used at work and one of the few OSS projects that I was aware of. I had dabbled a bit with it before, had published my own OSS library for use with Umbraco, but this time I decided to get more involved.
Through this involvement I got invited to be a contributor to the project and was invited to their annual conference in Copenhagen. I’d never been to a user group or conference in Australia, let alone an international conference, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I organised my leave from work, booked my flight and prepared to deal with the anxiety of going so far out of my comfort zone and headed over.
But I had a secret objective, to find a new job. I was still a bit raw (it’d only been a few months) and I thought “hey, I could work in Europe for a few years”. Well I did meet someone over there, they happened to be the only other Australian, who hailed from a company in Sydney.
A few weeks after returning from Copenhagen I was packing my apartment up and moving to Sydney!
Now though I was bitten by the community bug, I’d had such a blast getting into OSS and attending a conference I started getting into the Australian dev community. I started following people in Sydney on twitter (many of who are now close friends) and saw them talking about an upcoming Australia conference called DDD Melbourne. One night after a few glasses of liquid courage I decided to submit, I’d seen people present and was sure I could do it too.
After a couple of weeks, I got an email saying I’d been accepted to speak, then I’m on stage in front of a bunch of people and meeting all these people I looked up to in the Australian dev community!
And i was hooked. I started attending, then speaking at User Groups, then bigger conferences like TechEd, and eventually running DDD Sydney. This got me on the radar of Readify, I was encouraged to join (where I’ve been for 7 years now) and eventually lead to me being awarded my first Microsoft MVP award.
Looking back it’s all very surreal, what started as a whim decision to head to an event on the other side of the world opened up a whole new world for me. I was nervous getting on that first plane, I was nervous writing that first abstract and nervous presenting my first talk, but I’d do it all again.