This week we welcome Micaela Reyes (@codemickeycode) as our PyDev of the Week! Micaela helps organize Python conferences in Asia. Micaela has been especially active with PyCon PH. She is also a member of the Python Software Foundation.
If you’d like to catch up with Micaela, you can check out her website.
Let’s spend a few moments getting to know Micaela better!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I wear multiple hats as an Entrepreneur, Software Engineer, and Tech Community leader.
Currently, I run CodeHappy, a grassroots Python training company in the Philippines that teaches core and industry-relevant software engineering skills to tech professionals and leaders.
Along with that, I’ve been a software engineer for over a decade, working on various projects and gaining experience with multiple programming languages before finding my passion for Python.
As the Director of Operations for Python Philippines (PythonPH) and a Python Software Foundation Fellow, I actively contribute to the Python community and its growth.
On a more personal note, I love coffee, good food, traveling and going on adventures. I’m an introvert but I love having friends. I love meeting people who are passionate about their craft, getting inspired and learning something from them.
Why did you start using Python?
It’s actually a funny story. Back when I was in my junior dev years, my boyfriend Matt told me about this tech conference for Python called PyCon PH 2012 – the very first PyCon in the Philippines. At first, I wasn’t too sure about going since I was already starting to get into Ruby for web development, but Matt convinced me to give it a shot.
So, we went to the conference and we were surrounded by all these like-minded folks who were all into programming and open-source stuff. We watched a lot of cool talks, met some crazy cool people, and just soaked up the overall vibe of giving back and contributing. It was exactly what we needed and we just couldn’t get enough of it.
At that time, I was still young and idealistic, and I really wanted to work as a software engineer and keep loving what I do for as long as possible. But the company I was working for didn’t really have that same level of passion.
PyCon was such an amazing experience for me that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like I had a PyCon hangover for days. So, I started following all the people I met at the conference on Twitter and the event’s facebook group, trying to learn as much as I could and experience more of that awesome environment where I felt like I could be myself and do anything.
That’s how I fell in love with Python, and it changed my life. I became a huge advocate for it after that conference and I still am to this day. The community is just amazing, and the language itself is so user-friendly. It’s no wonder it’s become so popular.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
Python’s the one that stole my heart because the community is just plain awesome. Everyone’s super friendly and helpful, and it’s just a great atmosphere to be in.
In addition to that, I love Python because of its simple syntax. As a software engineer, my job is to solve problems using software, and Python just makes that so much easier. Instead of getting overwhelmed by a bunch of complicated syntax, I can just focus on actually solving the problem.
What projects are you working on now?
As a side project, I’m currently putting my efforts into the PyCon APAC Organizers website, which you can find at https://pycon.asia. It’s a platform where folks can conveniently access information about the Regional PyCons in APAC, all on a single page. Been collaborating with some awesome folks from the APAC community on this, and it’s been an exciting journey so far.
On the less exciting side, I’m still tying up loose ends from the recent PyCon PH 2023. Me and the rest of the PythonPH board members are hustling to get all those post-conference tasks wrapped up nice and tidy.
I’m also in the process of cooking up some fresh workshop materials for CodeHappy. Gotta keep the learning vibes going and share the knowledge with enthusiastic folks.
Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?
- django – this framework has been a game-changer for me. It taught me how to build websites from scratch and showed me the ropes of software best practices. It’s been a solid companion on my journey.
- requests – there’s just so many things you can do with it and the best part is, it’s super user-friendly. As a backend dev, I primarily use it to effortlessly interact with third-party APIs. It’s like my go-to tool for all my API consumption needs.
- flake8 – for making sure my code is PEP8 compliant
How did you get into organizing conferences?
It all started after I attended PyCon PH 2012 (my first PyCon). The experience ignited a spark within me, and I was determined to find a Python-related job. At the time, I was working as a Java + Oracle PL/SQL developer, but there weren’t many companies in the Philippines utilizing Python, except for a handful of startups in Manila and Cebu. I started job-hunting for these Python-focused companies and started sending out applications like crazy.
One of the companies I came across was Auberon Solutions, the organizer of PyCon PH 2012. It was there that I had the pleasure of meeting Ann and Frank Pohlman, who played significant roles in the community. Additionally, my boyfriend Matt and I began attending meetings where passionate individuals gathered to discuss plans for the upcoming PyCon PH.
As luck would have it, the torch of responsibility practically landed in our laps, and we were absolutely stoked to dive right in and take it on. We started organizing Python Meetups in Manila, connecting with fellow enthusiasts, and gradually laid the foundation for Python.PH, Inc. It was an incredible journey, working alongside a group of driven and idealistic individuals who shared the same passion.
And that’s how my conference organizing journey began – sparked by PyCon, fueled by idealism, overflowing with enthusiasm, and an ongoing quest for meaningful friendships.
What are some challenges with organizing a conference and how did you overcome them?
- I had no idea what I was doing at the starAt the beginning, I was clueless about what I was doing. Yeah, it’s a pretty common challenge. I embraced the uncertainty, put my trust in the community, and learned as I went along. I relied on my colleagues, sought advice from experienced organizers, attended other PyCons to gather ideas, and dived headfirst into resources to absorb all the knowledge and skills I needed. It was a journey of self-discovery, and I’m still learning as I go!The Python community has been my most reliable support system. It has always provided an environment where I can truly be myself, and where I feel like turning things around is not impossible. Cheers to the amazing folks in the Python community!
- The challenge of managing multiple moving parts.We understand the difficulty of juggling volunteer time, deadlines, community and sponsor commitments. However, we’re determined to rise to the occasion. By working together and optimizing our processes and resources, we strive to deliver exceptional results while fulfilling our obligations to our community and sponsors. Although it can be challenging, we embrace the opportunity to learn and grow as a team.
- Funding is also a tricky balancing act.We want to serve the community and stay true to our mission, all while keeping our sponsors happy. So, to tackle this challenge, the conference should be able to pay for itself. We find the sweet spot by adjusting ticket prices and crafting sponsorship packages. It’s a mix of getting money from attendees and partnering with sponsors to make it all happen.
- Volunteers are the lifeblood of any conference, but finding the right ones can be a challenge.To tackle it, we roll up our sleeves and get active in the community. We actively reach out to potential volunteers, ensuring everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. We want to push them, give them exciting challenges, but also make sure they feel appreciated and supported every step of the way.Now, here’s the cool part – we tend to attract some seriously idealistic folks. It’s pretty awesome, actually! But it means we gotta be crystal clear about our mission and make sure we’re all on the same wavelength. When we’re all in sync, that’s when the magic happens, and the passion just keeps on flowing.
As a cofounder I believe in leading by example and being a reliable anchor to the younger generation.
- Burnout is a real concern when organizing a conference.To address it, we:
- Prioritize necessary tasks over “nice to haves” and only work on the extras if time and energy allow.
- Emphasize the importance of balancing life, work, and community commitments, taking on tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
- Remember that all volunteers are working on their own volition, without monetary compensation. Not fulfilling responsibilities puts extra burden on reliable volunteers and disrespects their time.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
If you’re a tech enthusiast who loves traveling and has a growth mindset, I highly recommend attending PyCon Philippines and other PyCons in APAC. It’s an incredible opportunity to dive into the Python community, experience diverse cultures, and connect with like-minded individuals.
And ladies, this one’s for you! I want to encourage you to seek out local PyLadies and Women Who Code groups. Trust me, it’s a blast and makes learning so much easier when you’re surrounded by a supportive network of passionate women.
Thanks for doing all that you do for the Python community and for joining me in this interview, Micaela!