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Why Your Boss Should Send You to DjangoCon

So, your boss wants to know why your DjangoCon trip should come out of her budget. What do you tell her?

Almost every aspect of DjangoCon is an incredible bargain this year, even if you have to travel to attend.

Let's assume you are paid $!00,000 a year (you can scale up or down according to your actual salary). That means the company is forking over about $150,000 to employ you when benefits and overheads are taken into account, so in round terms they will be paying you $3,000. NOT to be at work.

Oh, and then you need an air fare at $600 (bargain air fares are much easier to get to DC, which has two major domestic hubs and two international airports), five nights at the conference hotel (an amazing bargain at $105 a night plus taxes), call it another $600. Let's assume you are a corporate type, you missed the Supersaver tickets, you missed the Early Bird tickets, so now it's $625 to get through the door (another bargain, the price of DjangoCon has gone up by only $25 over three conferences).

What the heck, let's just throw in a tutorial then bravely round it all up and call it a cool five grand your employer has to part with so you can have the pleasure of going to DjangoCon. How on earth can you justify this?

The more highly-paid you are the easier the justification is, in some ways. But the same basic argument applies. People with Django skills are in short supply and many of them are at the cutting edge of web technology (despite what one of our keynote speakers will tell us).

Let's suppose that you go to one tutorial and, over the three days of the conference proper, you attend twelve talks. You find out about new, more efficient solutions to a couple of problems that are chewing away at your server cycles, thereby saving your company the need to invest in new hardware as soon. In and amongst that, in the hallway track you meet someone who has experience with the exact configuration of modules you want to use to achieve some important corporate purpose. That information alone might save you two days.

This kind of thing is commonplace at technical conferences, and none more so than DjangoCon. You get to mix with the people who are actually committing the code that gets released, have chance to talk to them, understand better the purpose of certain Django features, and find a couple of new wrinkles on your existing methods that will save you time on some common programming tasks.

Not only that, but by taking the week off you have sensibly given yourself the opportunity to actually work with these Gods of Django (not that they'd like to be described that way: the developers are a pretty down-to-earth lot) and increase your understanding of the code base during two days of sprinting. These people only get together as a team twice a year! This is like a free immersive technical training session that leaves you way more competent and confident at solving complex web problems with Django.

Then you get to go back to work after a Sunday spent traveling, happy in the knowledge that you have contributed a little something to the Django code base. Your increased skill set and improved productivity will amply repay dividends on the cost of sending you. In six months time you deliver a project two weeks ahead of schedule, and your boss at last sees the tangible return on her budget investment.

Finally, a point you might wish to make for the longer-term. Only about 20% of US employees received any training in the last five years. By investing in you, your employer is not only helping to keep your skills honed and up-to-date but also affirming your value to them. In these days of staff churn, and when Djangonauts are such a scarce resource, it isn't the money that keeps you where you are. It's being a valued member of a team. There is no better way to express that than by sending you to DjangoCon.