Mia's Adventures at PyCon Bordeaux

Andrej Spasovski

Andrej Spasovski

4 minutes read

Fri Apr 28, 2023

Mia Bajic at PyCon Bordeaux
In today's article, we're speaking to our Mia Bajic about her road to PyCon Bordeaux, why she applied as a speaker, and her presentation on Python gotchas. We also touch on her experience as an attendee, and the importance of a mentor's guiding words. Plus, news about PyCon Prague! 
Okay, let's talk about PyCon in Bordeaux. How did you end up getting an invitation to speak there? Was it something you were interested in or did someone recommend you from Ataccama?
Yes, there are two parts to that. First, how did I end up there, and second, how did I come up with the idea to apply? 

As for how it came to my mind to apply, I had a strong desire to speak at PyCon in the beginning of 2023. So I checked the PyCon website for conferences in Europe that were close to the Czech Republic, where I am based. There weren't many options, but I found one in Bordeaux, France, in February. I was drawn to the idea of going to Bordeaux because it's in the south of France and known for its sunny and warm weather, which is a stark contrast to the cold and foggy weather in the Czech Republic at that time. Plus, I'd never been to Bordeaux before, so it seemed like a great opportunity to combine a trip with giving a talk.

As for the talk itself and the application process, PyCon conferences usually open calls for proposals for a month or so. During that time, you can submit your proposal, which includes an abstract and a full description. The organizers then review the proposals anonymously and decide which talks to accept. I received an email a month before the conference, in mid-January, informing me that my talk had been accepted. So I packed my bags and headed to Bordeaux to give my talk and explore France :) 

Did you get to choose your topic for the talk? Why did you decide to focus on Python gotchas? Do you have a personal connection to this topic or did you just find it interesting?
Yes, I got to choose my topic for the talk. PyCon conferences have a diverse audience, ranging from beginners to experienced programmers, and also including non-programmers such as scientists who use Python for calculations related to their field of research. When I was learning Python, I found that some features were not so intuitive, typically for someone coming from a different programming language background. I encountered some common pitfalls and traps in Python that left me surprised, and I thought that’s something worth sharing. My talk aimed to highlight these Python gotchas and provide insights on how to avoid them.

Moving on to your experience as an attendee rather than a speaker, was there a talk or session that left a special impression on you? 
Yes, there was one thing specific to PyCon France that I didn't know before attending. Most of the talks were in French, although there were some talks in English as well. I knew about the talks in English based on the abstracts and descriptions, but there were also talks that were advertised in English but delivered in French. There was a funny situation where I attended some talks with an international group of people, but when the speaker started speaking in French despite the English slides, we realized it wasn't meant for us. We turned around and went to grab a coffee. So, that led to more opportunities to connect with people, which was the best part in the end.

I wanted to touch on your mentor, Tatiana, and how she helped you.
Yes, absolutely. Tatiana Sokolova is my mentor from Femme Palette, an organization that matches mentees with mentors. I was matched with Tatiana about six months ago, and she has been a tremendous support. When the idea of giving a talk first crossed my mind, Tatiana encouraged me to go for it, to apply for conferences and submit my proposals. She provided me guidance on how to approach public speaking, and I am truly grateful for her mentorship and support.

Where can we catch you next? Give us some details about PyCon Prague. When is it?
Yeah, so there will be two big Python conferences in Prague this year that I’m attending. First one is EuroPython, where I’m co-organizing a workshop for total beginners together with PyLadies , where they will create some version of the snake game, if you remember the snake from old Nokia phones. If someone would like to try programming, this is a great opportunity! 

Another one is PyCon CZ, which I also co-organize and which will be held in Prague in September. You can look forward to plenty of talks in English, as well as workshops. The conference will last for three days, with workshops on the third day. We will also have a dedicated PyData track with talks focused on data-oriented topics, and we will soon open calls for proposals. So if anyone is interested in giving a talk or conducting a workshop, I’d warmly encourage them to do so! Giving a talk or conducting a workshop is a huge learning opportunity, a great way to inspire other people and most importantly, it’s fun!