I’ve been struggling on how to even begin describing my first SXSW interactive experience from this past week. It’s important for me to blog because I believe in the power of sharing good ideas and exchanging knowledge, so I’ll try my best. I had an amazing time and it’s hard to fully convey the reasons I know this was an extremely valuable trip. It pieced together a lot of things for me and the timing (my senior year of college) couldn’t have been any better.
Despite knowing a handful of people going to Austin for SXSWi this was a trip I took alone. I made plans to stay with a friend of a friend who I had never met before and got permission from my professors to leave early before finals. This was my not only my first SXSWi but also my first visit to Austin. I had a vague idea of what to expect but overall decided to stick with a “go with the flow” attitude. I described my game plan to some friends as “organized chaos.”
I tried to do my homework before I went. I talked to people who had attended SXSW in previous years, emailed some online tweeps I wanted to meet, picked out the sessions that looked interesting and ordered my personal business cards. When the time came to leave I was still anxious but feeling more confident I knew what to do and could rock out SXSWi.
My first three days flew by. I seriously couldn’t even tell you what happened when, who I met what we did (no not because I was drinking too much). It was intense. Since I was traveling alone I was constantly being forced to meet new people. I loved it every moment of it. I bounced from group to group and made a ton of new friends. Also taking time to meet people I had only ever communicated with online.
Several people told me it’s the people you meet not the sessions or speakers that really make your time in Austin worthwhile. While I attended some great sessions, I would still have to agree. I’m walking away with the feeling that some of the people I met will become lifelong friends (thank goodness for social media keeping us connected). It sounds cliché but it’s true. I valued the feeling of being surrounded by people who want to go out and change the world. I think that was another key piece of this trip; the opportunity to meet a group of people who understood the importance of looking ahead the future.
I plan on blogging more of my thoughts from the trip soon. I did write up a post for The Next Great Generation called Embracing Your Gen Y Status: SXSWi Edition if you want to check that out. Visit here again soon for more updates.