Earlier this year, I came upon the opportunity to go to PASS Summit. Some of you who clicked on this link probably know what that is, but I’ll let the about section of the Summit site explain to you what the event is and why it is worthwhile. I had previously gone in 2013 when it was held in Charlotte (easy commute from Raleigh), and having the chance to go back was a no-brainer for myself and my company. At the conference, I get to network with industry professionals/mutual Twitter followers, learn new skills to advance my career, and get advice on problems and possibilities facing my department at my company to allow us to become better. Plus, I can personally thank Redgate for the awesomeness of their SQL Prompt tool, which our BI team actively uses.
Anyway, this is where I start blog recaps.
Day 0 (Monday)
Flight arrived after 5:00 (PDT), so I did not get to pick up my registration badge. I will note that it would be nice if that area was open later on that day like it is on the surrounding days. At first, introverted autistic me was concerned about showing up to events without a badge. I was due to attend a networking dinner hosted by veterans Steve Jones and Andy Warren, where people could converse and meet. I was able to talk with a few professionals, including a group of developers at stamps.com, on what they do and we shared challenges we each face on a broad scale. While I liked how the dinner gave us a chance to sit down, I sometimes hope that there’s more opportunity to move about the dinner area and talk to other tables. When someone speaks to me first and asks about me, it is much easier for me to talk, or if I’m place at a table with others I’m driven to make that conversation. That was advantageous.
After I returned to the hotel to handle a task for my work, and struggling with it (public props to my colleague for figuring it out quickly the next morning), I decided that I might want to talk with others on handling disparate data…while singing karaoke. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, the PASS community is constantly in touch about events, which led me to join many others (both first-timers and community notables) to a Chinese restaurant hosting nightly karaoke. That was more of a chance to have fun and practice “Purple Rain” in front of an audience outside Raleigh-Durham or Philadelphia. I’ve learned that singing a song in front of people who may not know you is a good opening for conversation once the song is done. It’s no secret that I have trouble approaching someone I’ve never spoken with and making small talk with that person, but there were some openings created through the power of singing songs someone else made famous.
A key takeaway professionally that night was simple: as soon as you are stuck on a problem involving data sources, ask someone who is more seasoned with the data on their thought process, and how they became acquainted with the data. If they solve the problem, find out how they did it so you can apply it next time. It can help someone doing work on the analyst side to get better. I admit it’s an area I still need to be more consistent about when trying to play hero.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
I wasn’t signed up for a pre-con because money, so it has really been a day of exploring and also following up on previous work tasks. Let’s just say I saw touristy stuff and took advantage of the #sqlsummit hashtag to meet random others. Again, PASS does a great job utilizing Twitter.
Then we got to the networking dinner. There’s a lot of standing around awkwardly for a person like myself, so this event isn’t necessarily easy. I found that moving around and striking up conversation with someone else who was also by themselves to be an effective way of connecting. I was able to talk to a DBA or three about how their systems worked, and got advice that the system administrator should not be the database administrator. Can’t treat them both the same. I can agree to some extent, but I would think it depends on if the sys admin has been trained as a DBA.
I like the networking dinner for the open and social aspect, but I do wonder if PASS could put together a networking event similar to the first-timers one for people who generally just want to meet other people but have trouble saying the first word. The first-timers one is set up speed dating style, and maybe it could be expanded to others in the future. Though with everything considered, I met plenty of new people by focusing on them directly.
Then came the fun of karaoke, yet again. How we do the connect part. Or reconnect, as I encountered professionals I had not seen in a long time…three years in a few cases.
And that was everything through Tuesday. Days 2-4 will provide even more learning.