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PASS Summit 2013

Hello Everyone!

I've recently heard about a SQL event called PASS Summit 2013. I started working with SQL at 18 (currently 20 years old) as an ETL assistant. I love this field of work and would like to continue my learning. So far, I've mostly learned from experience and from ETL Specialists that I work(ed) with. SQL and SSIS are tricky programs to learn and obviously require time and experience to get good with. Now, back to SQL Summit 2013. Based on what I've read, this sounds like a HUGE event full of learning experience. I wanted to get some opinions from people who have attended these Summits in the past:

  1. Is this event designed for Pro DBA's, or is it beginner’s friendly?
  2. What is the typical age group that attends these events (Would love to meet other college students)?
  3. What should I expect if I decide to invest to attend this event? (Session sizes, Quality of Speakers, Learning Friendly averments)
  4. What are the Pros and Cons of YOUR SQL Summit experience.

I am only curious to know because I want to be a good stuart of my money and since I am a college, I don’t have extra cash laying around!

Thank You!
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asked Jul 26, 2013 at 03:41 PM in Default

eaglescout gravatar image

eaglescout
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Don't forget to pick one of the answers as the final solution to the question. Based on your response to @WilliamD I think it should be him.
Jul 31, 2013 at 10:14 AM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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3 answers: sort voted first

I am going to disagree with Grant's recommendation of not going.

Granted, you are not going to be able to take part in the parties, but that is not the be-all and end-all of the Summit.

I went to my first summit about 5 years ago and it changed my view and involvement in SQL Server too. However, the technical sessions really blew my mind. I took part in less of the parties back then, because I knew no-one and very little about the after-show stuff. Since then, I have changed to take part in that, but didn't miss much through not going to them in that first visit.

I agree with dipping your toe in by visiting a SQL Saturday, but if you want to go to Summit, then go. You will not regret it and you'll be able to take part in the parties on your second visit (you will get hooked and come back, I guarantee).

If you don't know anyone going, you can also sign up for the First Timer orientation group. You will be paired with a Summit Veteran who will explain how things work and introduce you to people. The main thing to do then is to talk to people - not an easy thing for most IT workers - but this is the networking that Grant was talking about. Chat about what you do at work, ask the other person what they do, you will find common ground or even be able to solve an issue either one of you were experiencing and possibly/hopefully keep in touch after the Summit.

So to summarise: Go to the Summit, meet new people, have a great time and come back next year!

I would say that I would happily meet you there, but am not able to be there this year, so maybe next year. I am sure that anyone on this site who is attending the Summit would be more than happy to meet and have a chat/coffee with you if you decide do go.
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answered Jul 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM

WilliamD gravatar image

WilliamD
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Thanks for your comment @WilliamD! I am most certainly planning on attending this event next year, in hopes of developing as many connections through this and other wedites like this one before then, so I can have someone to meet up with and show me around!
Jul 29, 2013 at 03:39 PM eaglescout
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The PASS Summit is absolutely the premiere event for SQL Server pros. It has more top speakers and professionals gathered in one spot than any other event. It does have 100 level sessions for complete and utter beginners up to level 400 where Microsoft shows off internals. The majority of the sessions are probably in the 200-300 level range. So the answer to your first question, yes, it's extremely beginner friendly. You can check out which sessions are being offered this year already. You can also attend 24 Hours of PASS next week, online, for free, to get a preview of sessions that are being offered.

The typical age group is a little older. I'd say lower end is around 25 or so and the upper end is very high indeed. The median is probably around 35. While there are probably going to be some people your age, I suspect not many. A lot of the networking is done after hours, usually in bars, so being underage will be a little bit of a limiting factor.

The quality of the speakers is excellent (although you get very weak speakers occasionally or a good speaker can have a bad day). The smallest session I've seen at PASS had about 10 people in it. The largest was in two giant rooms and had about 500 (not counting about the same number online, some sessions are broadcast live now). You can expect to be able to chat with leading industry experts to pick their brains and establish relationships with them. It really is the best reason to go to the Summit.

My own experiences... Let's just say that the PASS Summit made me who I am today. Prior to PASS, I was a DBA, trying to do a good job. Now, I'm a DBA, trying to do a good job, who writes books, speaks internationally, travels, and is friends with some of the smartest most capable people in the industry. We call it SQL Family. It sounds like a cult, but it's just a bunch of people who, when they get together, treat each other well. And when we're not together, we treat each other well. It's a networking, sharing, caring group. You can search for lots of detailed comments about PASS and the Summit on my blog, scarydba.com.

Should you go? Personally, I recommend it for everyone, but you're the youngest person to ever ask me about it. Hmmm.... I'm not sure. It's quite an investment and you're still young enough that you could change your career path five times in the next four years (I know because I did exactly that). While I think the Summit is probably one of the greatest experiences a data-pro or a wanna-be data-pro can have, I'd say you might want to wait a little while. And that's the very first time I recommended against attending the Summit. Wow!

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answered Jul 26, 2013 at 04:16 PM

Grant Fritchey gravatar image

Grant Fritchey ♦♦
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And another thing...

Thinking about this some more, I realized I should have offered an alternative to get your feet wet, experiment with the PASS experience without having to commit tons of money. You should look into when the next SQL Saturday event is going on near you: http://www.sqlsaturday.com/

I'm in Sacramento to present at one tomorrow. I'll be at San Diego in September. Possibly, Charlestown SC in October. DC in December.

These are free events that frequently have some of the same speakers (organizers & volunteers & attendees) that you're likely to see at the Summit. That makes them a great experiment for you.
Jul 26, 2013 at 04:23 PM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
Thanks @Grant Fritchey for the honest opinion. Due to the high costs of changing your degree 5+ times, like some of my buddies did, I thought out my college degree carefully, and since I speak both Russian and English, I've decided to go into International Business with a minor in Information Systems and Database Security. Now, I've signed up for the upcoming SQL Saturday in August, near where I live. I am hoping to learn as much as possible and create as many contacts as possible. BTY – I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn, if you don’t mind?
Jul 26, 2013 at 04:44 PM eaglescout
Sure thing, just customize the message so I know who it is.
Jul 26, 2013 at 04:56 PM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
As well as the SQL Saturdays, and PASS, (and the UK equivalents), keep an eye out for Red Gate's SQL In The City events - OK, the focus is more on Red Gate's products, but you'll still get a lot of good DBA information there, as well as the networking opportunities.
Jul 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM ThomasRushton ♦

Thx! I've heard about those also, but haven't seen one coming to my town anytime soon.

Jul 28, 2013 at 01:42 AM eaglescout
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SQL Saturday is a great event! I would greatly suggest going to a SQL Saturday prior to the Summit, though honestly if I could swing the cost and time off... I'd go every year.

Which one are you going to in August?
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answered Aug 12, 2013 at 09:21 PM

fluffydeadangel gravatar image

fluffydeadangel
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Nothing for me in August. I'll be in San Diego in September.
Aug 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM Grant Fritchey ♦♦
If you're coming to SQL Saturday in OKC, I wouldn't mind meeting up if you're interested. We're setting up for August 24th. We have a good community here and many people willing to help.
Aug 13, 2013 at 03:12 PM fluffydeadangel

Hi @FluffyDeadangel. Thanks for reaching out! I live in St. Louis, MO and have recently attended my first SQL Saturday. Honestly, I thought that the sessions were just, ok...but the connections I made there was definitely worth my Saturday. I am planning on attending PASS Summit in 2014 and would love to connect in person with people like yourself, @Grant Frichey, and @ThomasRushton! I've joined the local SQL chapter in St. Louis and hope to start attending meetings fairly soon.

Aug 14, 2013 at 06:20 PM eaglescout
Fantastic! It's a very strong community at all the events, on Twitter and all the blogs. It's a great group to get involved with.
Aug 14, 2013 at 06:26 PM fluffydeadangel
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asked: Jul 26, 2013 at 03:41 PM

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Last Updated: Aug 15, 2013 at 03:20 AM