Newbie’s Guide to WWDC

Because WWDC has gained much popularity due to the iOS platform, Apple’s annual event has sold out every year since 2008. In 2011, the event sold out in less than 10 hours. Student scholarships were reduced from 400, when I got them, to a mere 150. For those of you who are still lucky to beat the competition, here are some tips on attending WWDC from NorthIsUp:


This one saved me when I first attended in 2008. See below:

WWDC 2009 will be my fifth time attending as a student. So for all the student developers out there here are some tips. The goal of a student is different from those sent by their companies. For us WWDC is an opportunity to get internships or jobs at some of the top software development companies.


  • Get in line at 4:00 AM. If you want to be close to the front of the line, if you don’t care 7:00AM will do.
  • Bring food and water, I favor a camelback.
  • Bring something to sit on. Or be prepared to stand.
  • The line is a networking opportunity.


  • Checkin on Sunday, as students we get there a day early (this was not true in 2008, don’t know yet about 2009), use it to check in. You’ll be glad when you are first in line for the keynote instead of first in line to get your badge.
  • Do NOT wear the shirt they give you, or any apple bling for that matter, we all have it, it does not impress anybody there. Maybe vintage apple swag, but only if you were there, e-bay’d swag doesn’t impress either. Graphic tees are cool tho…
  • Bring a laptop. This is a must, as somebody said two years ago “going to WWDC without a laptop is like sending soldiers to battle with bananas instead of guns.”
  • Back up your laptop. They will give you cool software, you will want to install it. It will require you to wipe your machine in the install process.
  • Put your name on your power adapter and bring your extension cable for it. This is a must for so many obvious reasons, but all I have to say is that I ended up with somebody else’s power adapter, and you do NOT want to find yourself in a session a power adapter that may be incompatible with your generation of laptop. When you are constantly compiling code your battery does not last long.
  • Take advantage of the sack lunch sessions. These are usually non technical talks done by invited guests such as Guido van Rossum or Dr. Michael Johnson from Pixar. These sessions are “big picture” and among the most memorable.
  • Don’t just eat with people you don’t know, just pick somebody random and sit with them, they probably have made a cool application you use every day. I’ve eaten with the people from OMNI Group, Delicious, and Apple. They have lots of experience to share from the indie mac developer side, and the corporate mac developer side. Soak it all in.
  • Take notes, but don’t take notes alone, get SubEthaEdit. (I use Coda) Nothing beats collaborative text editing. I actually got a job interview at Apple by chatting with one of my fellow note takers.
  • They give you a really nifty bag, don’t use it. Everybody is using that really really cool bag and I know too many people who have lost theirs amongst the confusion. I had to beg for a new bag my first year after mine was taken. Also it’s usually a messenger bag and for all that is going on a backpack is better. (Last year a friend’s bag was stolen, they are a hot commodity)
  • There is no need to stock up on Odwalla Juice, they never run out and it is delicious, oh so delicious.
  • Have several copies of your resumé ready; there is a student job fair. This is a major networking opportunity. I have never left a WWDC without a job interview with at least two companies, one of which was Apple. The old timers will go on and on about how “WWDC is going down hill,” smile and nod, try to steer the conversation on how to get into a mac software company.
  • Bring personal business cards. Make sure you get them on the thicker card stock, people will be impressed.
  • Have an elevator speech ready. You won’t have much time to pitch yourself during an impromptu interview. Practice on your 3 minute spiel on why you are a good fit for an awesome company. Did you do research? do you have a pet project? both of these are good things to talk about in your elevator talk.
  • The best session is Stump The Experts. Get there early, it fills up. If you want a t-shirt the easiest way is to ID a walk in song (I have 2 hats and one t-shirt thanks to paying attention to the walk in songs).
  • Don’t waste your time playing video games. WWDC has a great showcase of the best of Mac gaming, it is very easy to get sucked in while playing Doom on a 30″ Apple Cinema Display with Bose simulated surround headphones. I missed many manny sessions my first year due to this deadly combination. The video games were gone in 2008, so I don’t know if they will be back in 2009.
  • You will get a lot of business cards, write something on the back to remind you who the person actually was, what you talked about, and what the take away was.
  • Save the cards in your name tag pouch.
  • The technical sessions are less awesome than you think. In 2008 since so many of the people were new to mac development most of the talks were half “intro to cocoa” and then a little “here is the cool stuff.” If you have the opportunity to talk with somebody like Wil Shipley or if you see a Cowboy Hat off in the crowd. Go talk to them. It will be more valuable.
  • Bring your code. Apple engineers are there all day to fix your code.
  • The Apple engineers are also really friendly, talk to them.
  • Bring proof of age on Thursday night. The official party is always on Thursday night, and the apple big wigs are in the crowd. Go try to dance with Phil Schiller.


  • Go to WWDC parties. I remember the WebKit launch party was pretty awesome, these are both educational and social opportunities. We are all nerds, we talk about code all the time, just sometimes its nice to do with a beer in your hand. Again these are really good opportunities to meet developers and network.
  • San Francisco was made for walking. You have a lot of time on Thursday and Friday as the conference winds down, use this time to see the sights.
  • The Moscone Center has good food, just not always for lunch. If you aren’t going to a sack lunch there are several good restaurants within two blocks of the conference. If you want to skip lunch go check out the Metreon just across the street or Mel’s Diner, on Mission, southwest of 4th.
  • The House of Nanking is the best chinese food I’ve ever had.
  • Stop by the Apple Company Store. Last year the Developer Bash was in Yerba Buena Gardens, not 1 Infinite Loop, but its worth catching the train down for. It is the only place you can get Apple coffee mugs, Apple toilet seat covers, Apple… you get the idea.
Most importantly HAVE FUN. Be social and the jobs will find you.