Cassidy Williams

Software Engineer in Chicago

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The Merge in Berlin recap

I spoke at The Merge in Berlin this past week! It was a huge, 1000+ person event, with an impressive speaker lineup and a ton to do.

On a personal note, this was definitely a trip that stretched me. I traveled alone internationally, which I’ve done before, but not since the pandemic, and definitely not since being a mom. I cried… a lot leaving my baby behind (and my husband I guess, heh) and missing her (them) as I galavanted around the city of Berlin for the first time. That being said, I’m glad I did it. I missed her so much, but traveling alone felt like I grew a little bit in ways I didn’t expect. It felt like I was greeting my former self as I brushed off my dusty solo traveling muscles. I felt both more vulnerable as a person, but also stronger.

Anyway, conference things! It was a pleasure getting to know the other speakers who I had seen online before, but never in person, like JZ Zhang (who was really my conference bestie the whole time, you always gotta have one of those!) and Robby Russell and Daniel Thompson-Yvetot. It was also really lovely getting to know brand new people, like David Edoh-Bedi (who went to the same university as me, woo go Cyclones!) and John Romero (who made Doom?? I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t know who he was at first and then I was very humbled)!

I gave three talks (!) at the event. My main one was called, “Embracing the Pivot: An Engineering Perspective on Adaptability” where I spoke about both my startup pivots, and about how devs can anticipate change. The next one was a “fireside chat” style talk with WeAreDevelopers, where we talked about AI and the job market. And then finally I was on the Dev Rel & Community Panel, hosted by Saron Yitbarek! All the recordings should be up soon, and I’ll update this post when they are!

The conference had an Open Source Fair, a Doom tournament, food events (I went to a BCM dinner and the bread at the table was so good that I don’t actually remember the real meal), and ended with a karaoke party for the speakers! It was chaotic and exciting and loud, and so fun. I was wildly exhausted for most of it (both because of the jet lag and because I did so many things), but it was worth it!

And finally, probably my favorite part of the event was that a bunch of folks from my Discord group came!! Some of the people in that group I had never met in person, and some I hadn’t seen in a long time. Having moments of just good ol’ friendship and gabbing with them made my heart happy.

Gosh, it’s been a whirlwind. I’m home now, cuddling with my kiddo, tired and content!

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