Technology conference speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. At CFP Land, we highlight different speakers every week in our Speaker’s Story blog posts.
At 23 years old, most software developers are just happy landing their first job, but for Tae’lur, that wasn’t enough. A self-taught developer and technical writer, Tae’lur has used her gift for breaking down complex topics to inspire and teach other aspiring developers across the world. Just two years ago, she was working at a minimum wage fast-food job, and now she’s been accepted to speak at 8 tech conferences about topics ranging from her journey to VR development in React. Not many stories out there are as inspiring at Tae’lur’s, so read on and hear what she’s learned along the way.
Tell me about yourself. How did you get into public speaking?
I am a Front-End Engineer and technical content creator. I’m currently a freelance technical writer and in my current contract position, I’m writing product documentation & user guides. I also write tutorials on topics such as Git & Gatsby.
My mission is to make the learning curve of software development an easier process for everyone. I got into speaking after I was invited to share my story of how I transitioned into tech from fast food at CascadiaJS in November 2018. A few months later, I decided to just follow accounts like @cfpland and submit talks!
What do you like about speaking at conferences?
I like how I’m putting myself out there and slowly yet surely coming out of my introverted shell. I’ve always had a secret obsession with researching and curating resources so being able to travel and present my findings is my thing. The public speaking is a strategic move, my goal is to get into developer advocacy.
Tae’lur Alexis, “Creating 3D User Experiences with React” at React 360
Do you remember your first conference talk? How did it go?
My first solo conference talk was just recently actually! It occurred June 6, 2019. It was RefactrTech, a conference based in Atlanta and the presentation was titled, “Building Accessible UI with React”. The talk consisted of me discussing ways you can improve the accessibility of your application and the different libraries and tools you can use.
How many conferences have you applied to and spoken at?
I’ve applied to at least 15, have been accepted to 8 and have spoken at one so far.
Do you have a pre-talk routine?
My process has so far been to gather so many resources on the topic I’m presenting on and read through the documentation and possibly experiment with building demos. Building demos can really help you with learning the ins and outs on a topic and you never know what you may uncover.
What advice do you have for new speakers?
Advice I’d give to new speakers before they give a talk is to remember these are regular people who are rooting for you. And the biggest step is to just be there. And when it’s over, it’s over. Afterwards you’re free to roam, explore and breathe.
You don’t need to be an expert, just be passionately curious. Follow @cfp_land, have an interesting talk title and abstract (summary of what your talk would be on) and just submit to every conference that’s relevant to your interests. You can submit multiple talks and I highly encourage you do so. People call this “conference-driven development”. The submissions are reviewed and approved MONTHS before the conference actually happens so you’ll have time.
Another way to find conferences that’s worked for me is to literally search “tech cfp” on Twitter!
Are there any other speakers you look up to? Anyone who’s inspired you?
CascadiaJS was the first conference I’ve ever attended and as stated, it occurred in November 2018. Eve Porcello invited me to her GraphQL workshop at CascadiaJS in Seattle and seeing how comfortable she was presenting on such an advanced topic was so inspiring. And then to know she’s authored O’Reilly books and travels doing conference talks and workshops for a living BLEW. MY. MIND.
Then I meet Marcy Sutton who embraced me after I spoke on stage about my story. Her passion around accessibility and learning more about her role in developer advocacy is literally why I do what I do today. They are both the reason why I’ve pursued accessibility and developer advocacy. I want to be able to use my interest in writing and community engagement to make an impact and have a nomadic career.
Where can readers find more about you?
I’m building an online platform called CodeEveryday where I’m providing learning resources, mentorship and job postings so you can subscribe to the newsletter as we prep for the release! You can subscribe to the newsletter at CodeEveryday.io.
If you’re a tech conference speaker, email [email protected] to tell your story. 💌