By entering the IT world everyone needs to face the same problem: where to find best sources and materials for learning. This industry is growing so fast that it’s hard to rely on books written 10 or more years ago. There are some exceptions but still most books are highly theoretical and you need some practical knowledge. That is why most of us are learning on the internet reading articles, blogs and tutorials. But there is another way which I recommend to try: conferences and meetups. Of course you aren’t going to become a master of anything after 40 minutes presentation. But it is not your goal as an attendant. You should rather try to focus on one or two takeovers from each presentation at the conference. Just to get some signs which way to go, what are trends right now and what mistakes you should not to follow based on others use cases. Remember that presentation is good when it makes you thinking and reflecting. This should be the only goal.
So the question is: how expensive it is and where to find good events? Well, there is a lot of cheap or even free and valuable meetups and conferences in Europe. I personally recommend to attend particularly testing conferences. Mainly because they tackle many different aspects of providing good quality product. No matter if you are developer, tester or devops by getting knowledge in testing, provisioning, requirements analysis, security, performance, development process and new quality coding technics you will become better at your profession.
Between 6 and 8 of June there are organized Nordic Testing Days: https://nordictestingdays.eu in Tallinn, Estonia . Prices are reasonable and agenda is quite extensive with performance, security, automation and exploratory testing as well as soft skills presentations. You will have occasion to check what BDD, Appium, Selenium and Cucumber are as well as get to know how to handle flaky tests.
In May there would be another Romanian Testing Conference: https://romaniatesting.ro . As for a 3 days conference with presenters from around the world it is not that expensive. In agenda you will find automated regression testing, leadership, VR, Agile, IoT and code coverage just to name the few.
In Poland there are at least 3 conferences worth attending to:
SkładQA organized every year in March in Cracow. This is the big 1 day event with about 500 people on the audience. This conference is absolutely free and during presentations you may drink your favorite beer which is absolutely great. There is no agenda yet but you can check what was on the table last year: http://kraqa.pl/index.php/skladqa/skladqa-2017/
QualityExcites is another free polish conference placed in Gliwice on June. Still no agenda but every year performances are better and better. Topics varies from soft skills by testing to software architecture. Here is the link to their website: https://qualityexcites.pl
And the last and the best known polish event: Test Warez. Relatively cheap and for everyone. Strictly focused on testing. Last year you might learn what you should know as a tester, how should test framework be designed, how to test artificial intelligence (AI), how to secure internet of things, how to mange backlog and much more. Stay tuned and check: http://www.testwarez.pl
These are just few examples of cheap and valuable events. Obviously there are many of them not included above. Some of them you may find here: http://testingconferences.org
Anyway my idea was rather to encourage you to consider taking part into some conference connected with software quality than show what is the best option. Every conference may be valuable because of presentations and networking. Opportunity to speak with people from industry having the same problems may push you forward even further than speakers. Just remember the simple rule: do not try to remember everything and focus on couple takeovers to bring home with you. And do not waste your conference budget if you have one at your company 🙂