After leaving the comfort of university and embarking on your career journey there aren’t a lot of formal learning opportunities. You no longer have a full class of peers and instructors who critique your work, push you to experiment with new media and teach you about using that new tool from the latest Adobe update. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t fall behind is to attend an industry conference. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Toronto for the 2014 FITC Conference.
“FITC is the intersection between Creative Technologists, Designers, Developers and all-around awesome thinkers from various innovative industries across the globe. They converge every year in Toronto to connect, challenge, inspire, and to experience the cutting edge in design and technology.”
Three days of panels and presentations, a day of workshops, evening networking events and the FITC design awards. Over 90 speakers talk about projection mapping, interaction design, new technology, pitching ideas and so many others. And with such a variety of topics, you never know what you’ll end up learning.
So what are some of the many benefits of attending such an event?
Learning from the Best in the Industry
You learned about them in art school, been inspired by their work, followed them on Twitter and now you get to meet them in the flesh. Where else would I have met Stefan Sagmeister, who is one of the most influential graphic designers today? Or Robert Wong, the CCO of Google Creative Lab? Experts in our field come from all over the world and you get to learn about their creative process, and how they got to where they are today.
Getting Past Your Creative Block
There is no better cure for creative blocks than hearing about all the other projects that your peers are working on. Ideas that you never thought of and new technology that you can’t wait to try. You will leave the conference inspired and energized, just waiting to get back to work with all of your newly acquired knowledge.
Speakers are only part of the equation. The best connections you will make are with your fellow attendees. Designers, illustrators, developers, creative directors and so many others come to these events.
You printed 500 business cards and now you finally get a chance to use them!
Location, Location, Location
If you’re lucky, there will be an amazing conference in your city. For those of us who live outside the design capitals of the world we must travel for this chance. The silver lining to this long commute are the opportunities to visit new places. I’ve lived in Canada for over 13 years, but this was my first time in Toronto. So not only did I get to attend an amazing event, I also got to see some new sights. It’s like a mini vacation with the added bonus of learning!
One of the best ways to attend a conference is by volunteering for it. You get an insider’s perspective of the entire event, an opportunity to talk with the speakers in a more relaxed setting and, as an added bonus, you get a pass for the entire conference.
Volunteers are the driving force behind most major events. It is a fantastic experience for design students and new grads – something that will stand out on a resume – while also an opportunity to help make the event a success.
There are many learning opportunities out there, you just have to find them. And when you put over a thousand people with a passion to create something awesome is bound to happen.