It’s the second Tuesday of the month and it’s time for T-SQL Tuesday. This one is hosted at my request by a good friend, Kevin Kline. Kevin has been a large part of the #sqlfamily as a speaker, teacher, educator, friend, and driving force for PASS and the annual Summit conference.
This invitation is asking about a conference or event that changed your life, that created an opportunity, or just changed your life. Career, other otherwise. It’s a great topic, and it’s one reason that I am running SQL Saturday. Events and interactions with others can change your life. It did for me, and for many others.
This year always stands out as a reminder of Prince (RIP). However, it was also the first year I lived in Denver. I moved out with my wife and two kids to work at a financial services firm. That summer I saw an advertisement for a new professional group, the Professional Association for SQL Server. They were having a conference that October in Chicago. I asked my boss to go, they agreed, and I made arrangements.
Two things stand out to me. First, my wife, sister-in-law, and toddler son came. We went to the last baseball game of the year at Comisky Park. My wife and SIL also smoked cigars with me in the hotel bar. A memorable fun trip for me.
The second thing that stands out is that I met Kalen Delaney there. I’d read her Inside SQL Server book and watched her talk. Afterwards I went up to the stage and asked a question and shook her hand. An exciting moment for a young data professional at the time, and one that spurred greater interest in learning more about SQL Server and becoming a better DBA. I’ve also been honored to know Kalen and meet her at many events around the world since.
That event kick started me from being just a DBA to being someone that wanted to be involved with the community, that believed I could speak in front of people and teach them things, and I could help my career by attending other events.
Conferences and Career
Most years I attend 10-20 conferences and speak at them. I may attend a few others and not speak, and I usually have a few internal or Redgate run events. I’ve very lucky, and I enjoy getting to visit interesting places in the world as a part of my job.
While I pick up technical bits and might get an idea for how to solve a problem in code, the most valuable parts of conferences are talking with other people and networking. Yes, networking, which is really just shaking a hand and answering a question. Or shaking a hand and asking a question. Or even commiserating with someone next to me about how some technology doesn’t work. Sometimes those last conversations are the most memorable and enjoyable.
This networking is incredible and I’m amazed how I hear about different opportunities. Even before I ran SQL Server Central, talking to people at events drove my career forward.
Whether you go to a user group meeting, a local SQL Saturday, or a larger paid conference like the PASS Data Community Summit or SQL Bits, if you make an effort to chat with people, interact, and take notes, I think you’ll find it as invaluable to your technology career as I have.
The last thing I’d note is that I run SQL Saturday as an independent, US charitable 501.c.3 corporation, independent of Redgate. I’ve found user groups to be great, but hard to manage every month. When Brian, Andy, and I set up SQL Saturday, we did so to bring local conferences to people whose employers might not pay to send them to Ignite, the PASS Summit, or other expensive conferences.
I would love to see more SQL Saturdays in more places in the US. It’s not that hard to run one, and you don’t even have to speak in front of a crowd. If you’re interested, ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org.