DefCon 2018: My Experience + Tips

I won an all expense paid trip to DefCon, care of Day of Shecurity! Here was my journey:

The Calm Before The Storm: And I’m off.

It was a pretty hectic time at the airport, since it looks like everybody was flying that weekend.

The first thing that I did before flying out was turning off my actual phone.

Tip #1: If you have a burner phone, it’s imperative that you get that set up even before leaving for DefCon. Once you get off the plane, keep your real phone shut off, and use only the burner phone even for getting a Lyft/Uber.

DefCon Thursday: Pay it Forward

First thing, I got my DefCon badge. Yay, thank you DoS!

I actually went and volunteered at the booth for Women in Security and Privacy. It was a pretty good experience overall.

Tip #2: If you can volunteer, do so. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll have something to do, and sometimes it can even help you in your career, or get you free swag or entry.

DefCon Friday: More than just DefCon

There’s more to DefCon than just DefCon. The beauty of it is that there are also things going on at the side. For example, Diana Initiative, QueerCon, Hacking Diversity, etc.

I found myself wandering around the various side cons and it was great. You never know who you could meet at mixers too. I personally found myself in the midst of a group that I was comfortable enough to get to know better and have dinner with.

Tip #3: You can find new friends at mixers. Take a look and see what else there is to offer aside from just DefCon proper.

Before DefCon, I’ve never picked a lock, ever. Who knew it could be so fun?

Tip #4: Find something you wouldn’t try and give it a shot. People in the villages are generally helpful and will teach you a thing or two. Who knows what you might get out of it?

DefCon Saturday: Talks, and Talking

So lining up for talks can be somewhat very difficult. You can’t just go from one talk to another without falling in line.

Tip #5: Some talks you can find online after some time. Pick your battles, and make sure to schedule enough time in between talks to line up. Sometimes you’ll need even a full hour to make sure you get in the door.

I was able to go to good talks this day at DefCon, Diana Initiative, and Hacking Diversity. It’s definitely worth hearing talks, but you also get some good insights just by talking to people. I’ve learned quite a bit by just chatting with people that happened to be right next to me.

Tip #6: Always take notes, even when you’re just chatting with someone casually. You’ll never know what you may learn from others.

DefCon Sunday: Fun Demos, Vendors, and Goodbye

For the final day of DefCon, I was up and early to get out of the hotel room, and into some talks. Aside from that, I also went to some demos as well.

There are some up and coming tools that are pretty interesting. You should definitely check a few out when you can. You never know what they could provide.

Tip #7: Pack light, but bring an extra bag. You might find yourself grabbing some good deals at the vendor area. Also, you can check some bags in at the bell desk for ‘free’ (plus tip), so feel free to make use of this when you still have con stuff to do before you fly out.

It was a good trip overall. Thank you for this opportunity, Day of Shecurity!

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