DC Team in front of Drupal icon

DrupalCon and Beyond
The importance of professional conferences

Drupal is the open-source content management system (CMS) used for the Digital Commons platform which hosts 70+ North Carolina state agency websites.

Author: Liz Vines

Pictured: Some of the Digital Services team at DrupalCon Seattle 2019

DrupalCon is “the" event uniting thousands of people from around the globe who support the software.

My first Drupal experience was DrupalCon 2017 in Baltimore Maryland. At the time I was the Web Manager for the NC State Parks and getting my feet wet with all things Drupal. The experience was so dynamic that I wanted to keep going back. More than the fantastic presentations, the opportunities to meet other Drupalers and the chance to get out of the office and ‘talk shop’; I noticed the Drupal volunteers. Those doing BOF (Birds of a Feather) presentations, those helping newbies contribute code, and those presenting session talks. It was a fun, supportive community and I wanted in! 

By this time in my career I’d already learned some of the important reasons to attend professional conferences. Not only do they help you remain relevant, but they can also spark interest in what you love doing the most. Other reasons to get involved with professional conferences are to:

  • Stay on top of new technologies
  • Hear about the experiences of others
  • Share your own experiences
  • Promote your state/agency/team
  • Get to know others in your field

When I arrived at DIT my new team was fresh from DrupalCon Nashville 2018 and shared a similar desire to contribute to this incredible community.

For DrupalCon Seattle 2019 we roared out of NC full of purpose! We contributed to the Government Summit and co-led a BOF (informal sessions that allow groups to meet and discuss common problems facing the community) and we interacted with several other States' digital teams. The hot topic for that year was the move from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Upon our return, we had dozens of ideas and had established professional relationships that we maintain today. Much of what we learned at DrupalCon continues to be woven into our current practices.

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Members of Digital Services team with a member of City of Raleigh web group at DrupalCon 2019

Our team submitted a presentation that was ultimately accepted for Drupal GovCon (The smaller, specialty-focused conference), but the pandemic prevented us from attending. I was invited to moderate a presentation of the very first virtual Drupal GovCon in 2021 and will treasure that experience.

However, volunteering for DrupalCon was still the goal! In 2022 I heeded the encouragement of a Drupal buddy and submitted an application to the team that reviews presentation submissions. I was successful and am now a grateful European Drupal Track Team member! For DrupalCon Prague 2022 our team reviewed all of the submissions for the Users and Editors Track. Through Teams/WebEx meetings our group made final selections for eventual presentations, chose the day, time and conference space for the conference. (I hadn't expected that it would be so comprehensive) It was a wonderful professional volunteer experience that has enriched me in unexpected ways.

Being on the frontlines of what the chatter is for newest technologies and topics that people in the community want to hear enable me to share back to the North Carolina Digital Services team for the Digital Commons platform as well as to our agency partners. I have again been invited to serve for DrupalCon Lille 2023. Count me in!

(The Digital Commons platform will be upgraded to Drupal 10 early summer 2023.)

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