How to convince your boss to buy you a conference ticket

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This document is influenced directly by a similar one by the organizers of JSConfEU, one of the events that inspired CascadiaJS.

You write JS all day. You are your team’s frontend or Node.js expert (or want to become one). You are leading a team of engineers, or just starting out as a junior developer. You are wondering whether to invest in frontend observability or convert your data layer to GraphQL. You know you want to attend CascadiaJS 2019, but you don't know how to justify the expense of time and money to your boss.

Talk Business and Explain the ROI

When you approach your manager to ask for a CascadiaJS ticket, it's important that they understand that CascadiaJS isn't an expense: it's an investment. CascadiaJS is an opportunity for their employees to grow their knowledge, stay motivated and network with fellow developers.

Companies are usually aware of this, and your team might already have a conference budget. Maybe your manager actively wants you to grow, and encourages you to attend events. But not all of us get that support handed to us on a silver platter – so let's review the business case so that you can convince even the most skeptical boss.

Training

Explain why you want to attend CascadiaJS, and what you plan to learn there. Mention any specific pain points your team might have: slow processes, knowledge gaps, lack of code quality; and point out how attending CascadiaJS would boost you and your team in tackling these issues.

Offer to give a lunch talk about the conference and your most important take-aways, to share your learnings with the team. At the very minimum, plan to send a quick email to your team with a summary and some links to interesting tools or techniques you learned about.

Volunteer to write a blog post about your experience on the company blog. This is not only a good way to report back to your team, but it also publicly shows your company’s involvement and participation in community events.

Motivation and Inspiration

CascadiaJS brings together international experts on frontend, Node.js and fullstack development, both on stage and within its audience. You get to learn from them not only during talks, but also during breaks and associated events (evening gatherings, workshops). Connecting, chatting and learning from top-notch talent in the industry can be incredibly inspiring. You’ll find yourself surrounded by a diverse group of people who work on the exact same problems you do and you’ll return motivated and eager to apply your new learnings in your team. What boss wouldn’t love to see some fresh energy?

Recruitment

Networking is your special skill? Offer to recruit at the event. Your company is desperately looking for new talent? Great – there’s no better place to meet skilled designers and frontend developers than CascadiaJS. Offer to actively connect with people and let them know how great working at your company is.

Promote your product

Your company sells a service or a product that is relevant to web and fullstack developers? Show some presence at CascadiaJS! You can raise awareness for your brand, get direct feedback from your users, gain some new ones, and show that your company cares about its community.

The Costs

So, those are all of the benfits. What are the costs? Here's a breakdown:

Example: A developer who works at a small company in Vancouver, BC and plans on staying for 2 nights could attend CascadiaJS 2019 for roughly $800.

Be Prepared for a No – and Don't Give Up

You might hear one of the following:

“We have no budget”

Don’t give up, and be prepared with the numbers. Calculate what the ticket would cost, and consider accommodation and travel costs if you need these covered.

Is this investment in your training worth it or not? Ask your boss why they think that it isn’t.

“We have no time”

Perhaps your management thinks that you can’t miss a day in the office, and that getting stuff done is more important than professional education and improvement.

Be prepared with some hard facts: Remind them how many hours you wasted on solving a problem recently. Is your JavaScript code base a mess and hardly maintainable? Are your designers complaining about super slow implementation of UI features? What about the animation that would really improve your landing page, but no one knows how to create it?

The work hours you’ll miss by attending CascadiaJS will easily be gained back later!

But I Already Went to A Few Conferences This Year

Great! We hope you got to attend some insightful events. Did you make sure to thank your company for the opportunity, and report back on your learnings? If you did: Good job! You are helping to build a company culture that values their employees’ learning and growth. Why not take it one step further? Look around: Are there people in your team who’d really benefit from attending CascadiaJS? Maybe they are not in a position to ask, or are not experienced in negotiating like you are. Advocate for them! Point out to your boss that your junior dev or frontend trainee could really benefit from the experience, or be a mentor to your coworkers and share some tricks on how to successfully approach your manager about conference tickets.

Did You Know? Sponsors Get FREE Tickets

If your personal conference budget is exhausted, maybe your company has a budget for sponsorships. Did you know all CascadiaJS sponsorships include complimentary tickets to the event? If your direct manager can’t find a budget for your ticket, maybe your marketing department can. Get them in touch with us to talk about sponsoring CascadiaJS.

I'm My Own Boss

Congratulations, then you only have to convince yourself! For freelancers, all of the above reasons apply, too. We’d even argue that a conference like CascadiaJS is the place to meet and connect with new clients.

Boss Email Template

For those of you looking for something of the more cut-and-paste variety, here is an email template from our friends at DinosaurJS.

Hi Boss,

I know you're busy, so I'll keep this brief! I know you've invested time in me to teach me about our tech stack and applications and that's awesome. I would like to take two days this year in November to invest in myself and make this partnership even stronger. 💪 This won't be me spending any time on the beach, but instead packing my brain full of knowledge on JavaScript. I'd love if our company can sponsor me to attend this year. Let me tell you a bit about it:

CascadiaJS is the premier JavaScript conference in the Pacific Northwest and is coming up on its 8th year. This year it's being held in Seattle, WA on Nov 7-8. In addition to the 2-day conference, there are several workshops being run during the week leading up to it, including ReactJS and GraphQL workshops. The conference is packed with talks from 9am-5pm and will be covering everything from web components to GraphQL to the future of serverless and edge software deployments. They also have built in breaks and fun activities surrounding the event so that we have a chance to meet other people from the community!

I know that by attending this event I'll come back to work on Monday full of ideas, new connections in the community and ready to try something new! The best part is, I can share this with colleagues afterwards with the recorded videos too.

So, I'd like to attend and if this sounds like something you think our whole team could be into, they do group discounts for 5 or more people! Thanks for listening and I hope to have an opportunity to attend CascadiaJS this year!

Sincerely,

Your JavaScript enthusiast

Scholarships

If you are dealing with financial hardships that make a ticket purchase impossible for you, consider applying to our Scholarship program - applications are open and everyone otherwise unable to attend is invited to apply.

We hope those tips are useful and we’re excited to see you at CascadiaJS in November!