Last week we announced Call for Speakers. Here is Raj Mehta recollecting his journey from volunteering at meetups to becoming a speaker at WordCamp Mumbai.
I took a session about “Typography and WordPress” at WordCamp Mumbai 2015, and although I would just love to go on and on about how awesome it is to speak at a WordCamp, let me tell you a little backstory.
How it all started
Most people discover WordPress as a software first and fall in love with it. Eventually the community factor comes along and people start loving it even more. It wasn’t the same with me — I discovered the community first and then tried the software!
It was the beginning of March 2014 when a friend referred me to something called WordCamp Mumbai happening just after 2 weeks. I read a little about WordCamps, and WordPress in general, and decided to give it a shot.
So here I was, a 17-year-old WordPress noob attending a WordCamp for the first time and it — was — amazing! The people I met, the things I learned, and the value I got out of a 2-day-event was too good to be true.
No longer a noob
I got into WordPress, started taking web design clients and, lucky for me, started attending these monthly meetups which are conducted in Mumbai.
I was no longer dealing with strangers. They all became friends, and eventually one huge family. Months passed by; I was no longer a WordPress noob I had once been.
My bet at speaking
On one such meetup, everybody was planning about WordCamp Mumbai 2015, the next big WordPress celebration in our city.
WordCamps, by their very nature, are locally focused WordPress conferences that bring together local communities and celebrate the cool stuff they’ve done with WordPress in the last year.
The organizers were discussing how they would love for local folks to come forward as speakers. And it was at that moment when it occurred me — maybe I can apply as well! And apply I did.
Surprisingly, I was not only accepted but encouraged to speak. The organizers were so nice, as they helped me prepare for what would be the biggest audience I would ever address.
And it happened. I took the session, answered questions and met lots of new folks. One of the things that baffled me was the amount of twitter discussion going on while I was giving the talk and later as well.
In a way, speaking at a WordCamp is a volunteer contribution to the WordPress project. Just like submitting a patch to the core.
But despite it being a contribution, you get so much in return — respect from community, people knowing who you are, a chance to convey what you think about WordPress and obviously, free entry to the WordCamp!
On to you
So that’s my story. If a kid like me who was a complete WordPress noob a year back, can speak at a WordCamp, so can you!
Our call for speakers is already out. If you’re in Mumbai, don’t hesitate to apply. I hope I’ll be hearing some of you speak WordCamp Mumbai 2016. Cheers!