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Codegarden First-Timer: Jacquie Steele

H5YR, Jacquie!

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Want to know more about what it feels like being a first-timer at Codegarden 2019? Read Jacquie Steele's first-timer story right here!

Full name: Jacquie Steele

Representing: LadiesOfCode 

Job title: Junior Developer 

Country: United Kingdom 

Twitter: @HolaJacquie 

Time working with Umbraco: 1 year

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What made you want to go to Codegarden 2019?

The first time I’d heard about Codegarden was around this time last year. I went to the UmbLiverpool meetup and Marc GoodsonKevin JumpMark McDonald and David Challener were all discussing their experiences from last year’s Codegarden.

Initially, I thought that the conference sounded like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and I was intrigued! I never thought I’d actually be able to go to Codegarden due to a number of circumstances.

Then I heard about the Codegarden “International Women’s Day” tickets from so many others within the community and I wanted to see what it was all about. I sent an email as soon as the tweet was sent out and I’m still so surprised about the fact that I won a ticket (I never usually win anything! 😊)

I want to take this opportunity to say, again, a massive thank you to those people that told me about the opportunity and to Umbraco for doing such an amazing thing by encouraging more women to come to your conference!

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What were you looking forward to the most before arriving?

I’d heard about the infamous Bingo, so I was looking forward to seeing what that was all about (it didn’t disappoint, it’s weird and wonderful at the same time).

Over the past year, I’ve been getting to know a few people from the Umbraco community. They have all contributed towards my continuous growth as a developer. This was, therefore, definitely the biggest thing I was looking forward to; getting to see my friends and meet new people whilst at Codegarden.

What were your biggest concerns/worries about you going to CG19?

I was worried that I’d end up being the odd one out, as I don’t use Umbraco during my day to day work. Before going to Codegarden, I did feel like a little bit of an imposter and would ask myself “why me?”. I was overwhelmed with it all.

I didn’t need to worry or feel that way though, as the moment I walked into the pre-party, I felt part of the community since everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

The high fives and hugs were a huge help!


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What did you think of Codegarden 2019? And can you name your 3 favorite things/takeaways from the conference?

AH-Mahhhh-zing! Every little detail had been thought about and the venue was perfect. It felt like a safe place to be, “a friendly bubble” from the moment you stepped foot through the door.

The decoration and venue were spot on and well thought of. I have an Events Management degree and kudos to HQ for organizing everything. The planning that must have gone into Codegarden itself must have taken hundreds of hours.

The final results show how much HQ cares about their product, the community, and the individuals within it. 


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My 3 favourite things/takeaways:

  1. You don’t have to be a “techy” person or a developer to go to Codegarden. There are talks for everyone and if you’re not up for sitting and listening to a talk, there are plenty of places to sit and reflect, recharge your batteries, work or even chat with others.

  2. The food & the drinks. Woah, the caterers prepared a feast. As a vegetarian, you don’t often get a huge selection of food. You usually get a few potatoes and some sort of pastry tart. At Codegarden, the food was well thought of and delicious!

    I enjoyed every meal that was served, and the queuing system meant that everybody could enjoy their meals at the same time.

    The snacks within the break times were a good mix of treats and healthy options. The chocolate cake was divine, and my personal favourite was the chopped-up carrot pieces - I’ve continued to enjoy snacking on carrots whilst being back at home (unfortunately, it hasn’t given me night vision abilities… yet!).

    Finally, (I could talk about food and drinks all day long) the baristas of Codegarden, what a lovely bunch of guys!

    I was feeling a little mind-blown during the first day (excitement overload - mostly), and the baristas had me laughing at tales of previous Codegardens, which in turn made me feel at home and ready for more fun.

    Also, the hot chocolate was the best I have ever tasted!

  3. The Mindful Corner. I’ve never seen this at a conference before, but it has such a huge impact for a small space. The Mindful Corner allowed me to stop, reflect and calm down throughout my time at Codegarden. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the amazing ideas and information overload you receive throughout the 3 days.

    The energy you experience is on a whole new level and the Mindful Corner can (IMO) help to reign in the emotions and that constant "buzzing" feeling.

    At one point I was a little homesick and spending some time within the Mindful Corner with Kris gave me some time to meditate and think about my thoughts and feelings.

    It allowed me to bounce back to my energetic self after my brief blips of self-doubt and tired moments.

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Did you gain something unexpected from participating in CG19?

The feeling and realization that the career I’ve chosen is the right one for me, right now, and that even though I don’t always think it, I know what I’m doing!

I don’t use Umbraco at work, but for me, Codegarden was more than work. I was able to speak to people about frameworks, projects and career decisions, something you aren’t always able to do when your head is stuck in code.


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Looking back, what do you wish you knew before going to Codegarden?

For me, I’d already asked a million questions about Codegarden, so I kind of knew what to expect.

I’d say know where to stay in Odense (how to pronounce Odense, too) and how to get from Copenhagen should’ve been something I looked up before arriving in Denmark.

The trip was one big adventure for me, so it was pretty fun getting lost (a lot) and finding my way around Denmark... and probably looking like John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction.



Secondly, to take my travel mug with me to the event. Sounds silly, but we could be helping save the planet one travel mug at a time! 😊

What are your top 3 recommendations/tips for CG20 first timers?

Try and get to know/involved with the community before you go, find some people (honestly, they’re really friendly) and reach out over Twitter, Slack or through the uBuddy system.

Getting to know some Umbracians before Codegarden eased my nerves, and I was able to get some travel tips from the Codegarden pros! Once you’re at the venue, prepare yourself for the amazing atmosphere and welcome you’ll receive; hugs, high fives and lots of smiles all round!

Take a notebook/laptop to jot down all the information, knowledge and ideas you’ll gain from the 3 days. Hopefully, like me, you’ll come away feeling uber inspired and motivated to learn more and sink your teeth into more projects (work based or side projects), but be prepared for inspiration overload.

Pack for all weathers, ok maybe not all weathers… but Denmark is like the UK, so you could get rain and sun in one day. Bring a raincoat/umbrella and don’t forget about sunscreen either!

Will we see you for CG20?

I would absolutely LOVE to come to CG20. Whether I am able to come or not, we’ll see what happens.

I’m hoping to contribute more time to Umbraco over the next year, so my knowledge of the platform will hopefully improve as I start working on some side projects for friends and family.



And lastly, anything else you’d like to add? (this could be a fun fact, word of encouragement for future first-timers or just anything you want to share with the rest of the amazing Umbraco community)

Persuade your boss to buy you a ticket for CG20, and if you are going… don’t miss out on BINGO and work on your “Naily log” strategy before the event.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience, as it’s most likely nothing like anything you’ve experienced before! 😊

The Umbraco community is a friendly place with so many friendly faces and that is something Umbraco HQ are so proud of; you can see it throughout the event.

Everybody cares for one another and if you’re looking lost/overwhelmed, there’s always someone to guide you or chat to.


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A massive H5YR to Jacquie for sharing her first-timer story - what an interesting read 😀! Make sure to read all of the other Codegarden 2019 first-timer stories

Curious about older Codegarden conferences and the experiences of previous first-timers?

Find their stories right here:

8 first-timers' perspectives on Codegarden 2018


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