This weekend, yours truly, did not stay at home;Yes! I was present at Barcamp Tema 2014, which took place at the Tema Rotary Club. I was there for three main reasons. First reason, I knew one of the speed mentors who personally invited me to the event. Second reason was my curiosity; I have been seeing and hearing so much about barcamp,especially on social media platforms and from a couple of friends, and I wanted to experience it for myself. The third reason; it was free and after I registered for it, I realized there was free lunch too (very important).
Perception prior to event
Before the event, I thought the venue will be packed, mainly because it was a free event and I know most Ghanians are like me, we love free stuff. But my thoughts were proven wrong. There were some empty seats. That was a bit surprising though because, all one needed to do was to register online or via a short code and there, one had a ticket to network, be mentored, to learn from people and to a free lunch package.
Experience at event
Barcamp Tema began with registration of the participants and the introduction of the speed mentors. If you have never attended any barcamp, you may probably be wondering, “What is speed mentoring?” Well, the speed mentoring session is where a participant has one- on-one interaction with any of the mentors at the event, within a time frame of 10 minutes. There were so many of them on Saturday. There were mentors in the fields of technology, entrepreneurship, communications and journalism, photography, career guidance, medicine and movie making. I interacted with Emmanuel Gamor of Global Media Alliance, during this session.
During the group mentoring, I had the chance of meeting with investigative journalist, one-time journalist of the year and currently a reporter at a radio station in Accra, Manasseh Azure. The group mentoring offers participants with similar interests to interview or interact with a mentor. Manasseh had a lot to share with the group: from how to be a good writer to being an investigative journalist, and to answering very personal questions on his relationship status.
A few tips when attending barcamp
I was able to gather the following during the event and I believe it will be helpful to others, especially those attending for the first time.
#Get to know who the speed mentors will be.
#Target at least three of them that you would wish to speak to
#Research on them
#Prepare your questions for the mentors ahead of the event
#Put all shyness aside on the day
#Ask questions and take contacts
#Follow up after the event.
Overall, Barcamp Ghana is a great initiative by the GhanaThink Foundation. Young people in school, people searching for jobs and people who want to just network could take advantage of this opportunity. Moreover, it is free. The networking is not only with mentors, but could be with people who share the similar ambitions as you. Yours truly, I am sniffing around for the next barcamp.