Microsoft Build Developer Conference 2017

I’ve been putting off this post ever since the conference ended because I knew that no matter what I wrote, I wouldn’t be able to do the event justice. However, not writing about it would be even worse. So, here goes!

My friend, whom I met at Pearl Hacks, Sabrina and I were both lucky enough to have received scholarships to the Microsoft Build Developer Conference. Therefore, we ended up booking our flights to arrive and leave Seattle at the exact time to split those Uber rides and of course, be roommates. The moment I saw her at the luggage carousel, I already knew that this was going to be a trip to remember (partially because we screamed and dramatically ran into a hug from 10 ft away). We ended up checking in at the Hilton and headed to the Convention Centre.

We were welcomed with huge swag bags, a conference badge and lots of optional pins to put on the lanyard. We then went to the pre-conference student event where we participated in a Machine Learning Competition. My friend, Gora and I won an Azure Machine Learning Competition a couple months ago, so we dug in and got the base of a fairly complex model going right away. Unfortunately, the competition was only 45 minutes long, so we ended up with what could have been a great Machine Learning Model whose potential never saw the light of day. We then checked out the Women in Tech event with some of our new friends and got interviewed by Sit With Me. We made our way to GameWorks and played with unlimited arcade credits for the rest of the night. After it closed, we gathered a group of approximately 30 students for a trip to Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. I think it’s hilarious that we kept blocking off multiple sidewalks because of how many of us wanted ice cream. After some great chats and ice cream, we headed back to the hotel. Just as we were about to enter the elevator, another student, who we later on became super great friends with, asked if we wanted to hang out at the lobby. Not to make you jealous, but there may or may not have been a little free styling session, and a minor freak out over the fact that we were using Premium Hotel Wi-Fi instead of the free one. We ended up chatting with a little group of people and called it a night when the clock finally struck 12.

Satya Nadella- Current CEO of Microsoft 

Satya Nadella- Current CEO of Microsoft 

We woke up at 6am the next morning and headed for the keynote. We had VIP seats and sat right in front of Satya, no big deal. I also got to see Scott Hanselman, one of the coolest Microsoft peeps that I follow on Twitter present. They announced Visual Studio for Mac (which I downloaded yesterday and it looks soo slick) and their new Azure mobile app with the command line built in. I think it’s exciting to see how Microsoft has transformed from the traditional company that they were a couple years back, to the one they are now. They’ve come a long way. After the keynote, I ended up checking out a bunch of booths. I was mostly interested in all the booths and talks that were focused on Progressive Web Apps, Angular, TypeScript, Cordova etc. because that’s what I am currently using at work. As a side note, is it just me or is TypeScript going to take over the world? Obviously, Slack has already openly replaced their entire code base with TypeScript. But the syntax is so intuitive for JavaScript programmers and the language itself is so clean, there is no way TypeScript won’t make its way to become one of the most used languages within the next year or two. Anyway, we ended up going to the Space Needle after day 1 ended. We returned to the hotel at around 10pm and stayed in the lobby with a bunch of us just discussing our thoughts on the keynote and our predictions for day 2.

View from the top of the Space Needle

View from the top of the Space Needle

We woke up slightly later on day 2 and started the day with another incredible keynote. The HoloLens team announced that they were working with Cirque du Soleil to create Mixed Reality stage planning. My mind was completely blown as we headed back to the Hub and checked out some more talks and booths. We ended up getting so much free swag (including a Surface Dial and fidget spinner), things were falling out of our bags left and right. That was the indication that we’ve had a successful conference day. We put down our stuff at the hotel and took the free shuttle to go to the CenturyLink Field for the after-party. The entire stadium was packed with free food. My favourite was definitely Beecher’s Mac & Cheese. We had so much fun at the photo booths that time flew right by us. We almost missed the last shuttle! We ended up going to one of our friend’s room and we all spent the night dancing and playing charades. At one point, we tried to fool a bunch of Americans that us Canadians dance with our fingers instead of body. I doubt any of them actually believed it, but the best part was that everyone played along.

We had the MSP summit on the last conference day. All the students from all over the world were gathered again, and lots of people shared what they learnt from the conference with a very supportive crowd. They also gave out awards and turns out I won the Top Microsoft Student Technical Contributor of the year?!??! I was so surprised that the work that I have been doing has been recognized, by more than just a pat on the back by my parents. We gave the student scholarship coordinators our million thanks and headed on a tour of the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond. The campus was huge. Touring the campus alone made us so hungry, we Ubered straight to the Cheesecake Factory after. We then spent our last night in our friend’s room watching the new season of Silicon Valley together until 3am. I guess that’s what happens when you put a bunch of computer geeks in one room.

We checked out the Starbucks Reserve Roastery the next morning and headed to lunch with our little group of friends. I cried when we hugged each other goodbye. Thankfully, Sabrina and I still had a bit of time left in Seattle, so we checked out the Public Market and the rest of Downtown Seattle together. We then went to the airport early and had to bid our farewells. It was sad but sure enough, we’ll see each other again- whether it be in North Carolina, Seattle or Toronto.

Now, here I am sitting at a coffee shop ending the blog post about one of the best experiences in my life. Thank you for the incredible opportunity, Microsoft and I hope to be back again next year!