Cluj.pm Anniversary Meeting Report
So, I went to Cluj.pm's anniversary meeting this month. It's been a year since Cluj.pm was formed and I've been lucky enough to be invited to the event. Here's my report of it.
The Cluj.pm meetings are sponsored and organized by Evozon. Evozon work with multiple languages and handle various ambitious projects, but it seems as though Perl has an especially warm spot in their heart. They also sponsored YAPC::EU 2012 in Frankfurt.
I've been consistently surprised by the amount of work and care done by Evozon in organizing the Perl meetings of Cluj.pm. They advertise it well, they invite guest speakers, they design and print out custom nametags, pick selective locations that could host everyone, sponsor drinks, etc. Hell, they even provide complimentary beer with a custom label relating to the event ("A camel walks into a bar..."). Oh yeah, and prepared a fantastic cake of the group logo I was given the honor to cut first.
I gave three talks at the event. I was told they were successful, first by people who cynically thanked for being placed after my talks with a friendly poke, and second by actual feedback pages. Yes, you read that right. Cluj.pm meetings have feedback input! You list what you liked, what you didn't, and what you would like to see, and you rate your experience, the event organization, the speakers and the subjects - just like with YAPC.
I kept hearing from the organizers that they're still a young group and they have much to learn, but they're in the right path. Some of you might be thinking if there is something they've done wrong. No, none. They've actually got so many things right, I think it's crucial to list at least some of them:
- They found an awesome venue
- They get (and sponsor) guest speakers
- Promotional material like nametags, beers
- A freaking cake!
- Feedback from attendees
- They have multiple female speakers and multiple female attendees (yes, it's important!)
- Multiple people (including female) giving their first talk (they use incentives to get people to try - it's brilliant!)
The evening was a great success. I had a blast! The talks were interesting, the speakers were fun, the audience was warm and welcoming. We stayed up until a late hour, chatting, rambling, drinking, eating and having a very good time.
The following day I got to speak in front of students at Evozon. They have an intern program that allows students to apply to Evozon (without dropping out of school), possibly be hired and do an internship. Afterwards they might find a permanent job. I was asked to speak about Perl, hopefully providing the students with incentive to consider the Perl department for their internship application.
I started with the fact that most of them probably don't know yet what they want to do, whether it is web programming, networking, security research or even graphics, but whenever they will, Perl will be a useful language to know, and they could utilize it for whatever they chose. I explained about the strengths of Perl, but the bottom line was, really, its community. You don't just create professional connections, you form actual friendships. My main point, in a line, was: Perl is not just a profession or a skill, it's a home. I was told the applications for Perl afterwards spiked, by students who had only heard about the language for the first time. (perhaps some was due to an example I gave on making 708,000 requests in 6 minutes to find actors across 42 seasons of 6 TV series)
If you think I was exaggerating about the comment on the Perl community being a home, a good demonstration of it is my time in Cluj. Every single day people from Cluj.pm had made it their mission to make sure I don't get bored, hang around with people instead of stashing myself at the hotel, go out and get some air and see the city, have a good time. They kept me company and made countless efforts to make sure I had everything I needed and more. It was quite overwhelming and touching. I truly felt I had made new friends who care a lot about me.
I had an incredible time, and I owe a huge thanks to Evozon, to Cluj.pm, to Amalia, Anca, Darius, Horea, Natasha, Mircea, Mihai, Diana, Raluca, Mirela, Marius, Arpad and at least a dozen other people who made my experience simply delightful. Nothing echos my message to the students about community as much as the wonderful treatment I received.
I already miss it all. :)