My Scholarship Essay to CocoaLove

So I just came back from 360iDev and man did I leave inspired. It’s transformed the way I look at my career path and what’s important to me whilst traveling on the road of software development. I left feeling energized and craving for more. I found out about another Cocoa conference happening soon and immediately began scheming a way to get in. Because of the price point I wouldn’t be able to afford to attend but I found out that there’s a scholarship program. Below you’ll find my submission for consideration.

Dear CocoaLove Committee,

My name is Basel and I am an iOS Developer. I’ve shipped four apps. I continue to work on my craft every single day. In my spare time I’m working on an application that aims to help broke, indie bands secure instruments and building my first kernel with OS (fun obvious fact: the latter is no easy task). I’m also the head of the Denver Swift Heads Developer Group. Now that that boring stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the interesting stuff. Namely, why do I want to attend CocoaLove?

CocoaLove is a unique conference in that it is not code focused. When Curtis Herbert initially told me this at 360iDev in Denver, CO I was skeptical. The engineer in me immediately thought, “What else could be important besides the technology?”

Well, it turns out that there’s a lot. An incredible amount. In fact, I might argue that those topics typically covered at a place like CocoaLove—Mike Zornek’s talk on Mentoring, Souroush Khanlou’s talk on Fear and Doubt, and Laura Savino’s talk on productive ways to engage poor coders—are even MORE important than learning things like best practices in Swift for Core Data or learning about the latest and greatest in 2.0. These sorts of “soft” skills; these “soft” topics are what leads to success in learning and building oneself with the hard skills.

And there lies the paradox. How can one develop their hard skills if they feel intimidated by those around them? How can they feel comfortable in the field if they don’t have a mentor? We don’t talk about these things as developers in regular conferences despite their tremendous importance. How are we supposed to include those who are underrepresented (i.e. women and minorities) if they’re terrified by the people who are supposed to be their peers? How can people who are new to field feel welcome if their peers ridicule them for their code—especially in a highly sensitive state where one is learning the massive frameworks of iOS?

These are the questions and issues that CocoaLove—to me—attempt to address. And I love it. It’s an area that is not covered by any other conference. I can learn how to build efficient code via screencasts. But where else could I learn how to better myself as both a developer and a human? At CocoaLove we get to see a side of members of our community that we never get to see: vulnerability.

Imagine that. Vulnerability amongst engineers. It’s almost as if we’re humans and not individuals perched over desks in the depths of some dark, unknown basement. That’s what CocoaLove would give me: A looking glass into the human side of members of our community.

And that’s what excites me about this community. Its capacity for introspection and empathy. There are all these exciting technologies constantly rolling out, and yet we’re able to retain our humanity.

And I want to be part of that process. I want to be, as Janie Clayton said in her interview on the Ray Wenderlich Podcast, “contribute to creating a community that makes our industry a fun, accepting, and accessible place for people to be a part of.” I too want to be an industry thought leader on Core Data, Autolayout, and/or Swift, but honestly, the former is of even greater performance. I want to be the engineer who remembers his humanity. Because that’s what we’re all here for right? To make life better.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Basel

If you’re interested in attending CocoaLove check out their site: http://cocoalove.org/

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