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SQLAndy

I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

How Much Value Would a SQLSaturday Certificate of Completion Have?

Note: Posted May 27, 2014, additions posted May 28, 2014 further down.

I think it’s been discussed a time or two, but the idea of issuing certificates of completion for SQLSaturday came up as an idea on how to increase value/attendance at SQLSaturday Orlando this year. The basic idea is to issue a certificate for attending a full day seminar (fairly easy) as well as either a full day certificate (completed x hours) or perhaps better would be a list of ‘received training on the following topics/x hours’. It’s definitely about logistics and about feeling like it has value – we can’t just email a PDF to everyone who registered (vs attended). Long term it has value and I think PASS should build it in to the tools to make trivial and close to automatic. Short term though, I’m looking at it through the lens of having limited time/resources for marketing the event. Of all the things we might do, would this be effective enough to make it worth doing on our own?

Some informal polling locally says that definitely a certificate for all day paid seminars, less interest in an hour of this and an hour of that on Saturday, but all said they would take it if it was done simply – no waiting in a line, etc. That led into a discussion of the use cases, basically:

  • Show an employer extra effort to learn/grow
  • Show a potential employer extra effort to learn/grow (and perhaps most valuable to the newbie trying to break in)

I don’t think having one of these, or a dozen, is going to guarantee anyone gets a job. I see them as a tie breaker probably best used by including with the resume and hoping it leads to a discussion during the interview. I also doubt it would ever hurt to include it. Are there other use cases?

Options:

  • Just do it. Market it now, make it happen later. Doable, mildly painful.
  • Don’t do it.
  • Ask PASS to build it (very unlikely could be done by September)
  • Try to get more information on the impact

We like the last option, and this post is part of that. Maybe the idea sucks. Maybe it really only appeals to newbies (would that be bad?). It is absolutely about effort vs reward for us, it’s easy to chase ideas because they are fun/cool and end up not getting closer to the goal. From a raw event perspective I’d like to see this, as the guy who is supposed to deliver 20% growth I’ve got to have a little more confidence before I say go.

So…more information. I’d like to poll the Orlando audience, but getting a survey that actually helps is hard, so I thought I’d ask for your input on writing questions that would give me useful data. Here’s what I was thinking for a starting point:

SQLSaturday Orlando is considering issuing certificates of completion. Attendees who wish to have a certificate issued will “check-in” with the presenter at the end of each session and then following the event a certificate listing the sessions attended and the number of hours would be sent to you as a PDF. This would be done at no cost to the attendee. It also assumes that the check-in process would be quick and probably online. Based on that scenario, please answer the following:

  1. Would receiving a certification of completion for attending a SQLSaturday would be something you would consider to be of use/valuable?
  2. Would you use that certificate as part of your annual review?
  3. Would you use that certificate when interviewing for your next position?
  4. Do you think having the option to earn a certificate of completion would make your manager more likely to support you attending?
  5. Do you think having the option to earn a certificate of completion would be something that might it easier to convince reluctant co-workers to attend?
  6. Do you think this idea is worth doing? Yes/No, and room for a comment

I’m going to trial some version of these at MagicPASS tomorrow night and get more feedback, but any ideas you have – post here, or send via Twitter (@sqlandy).

 

May 28, 2014 Notes

Received interesting feedback today. I’m going to paraphrase instead of quoting, any errors are mine!

  • Concern raised about adding to speaker workload at end of session which is prime question answering time. Fair concern. We’d want buy in before going forward, and it might be something that a room monitor could do.
  • Several cases of attendees asking for a cert, including one that drafted her own for the organizer to sign. Another said that they had a request for a cert and required the person to find them at the beginning of the day and then again at the end of the day before they would sign
  • Is certificate of completion too formal? Better word than certificate?
  • Should PASS do this for the Summit? Absolutely!
  • Would an attendee have to attend 6 sessions? No, not to me. It should be value add. Maybe the attendee doesn’t care/want one, that’s fine. If someone wants to go to two presentations and the spend the rest of the day networking, we can give them a cert for the 2 hours completed. I also don’t see making it a requirement to attend all sessions in a track.
  • (From me) MS has a very nice model for MCP’s. There is an online transcript and you can print a transcript from there if you need it. PASS could easily borrow that idea and expand on it
  • Do we (SQLSaturday Orlando) want the PASS logo on it (if we go forward?). If possible, sure, but it’s not a must have, and I get that using the main logo probably requires discussion
  • Twitter mention that having a piece of paper that can up on the cube/office wall is good marketing. Agree!

So far no one thinks it’s a bad idea, most of the questions are about logistics which do matter. So far no one thinks it’s a game changer either. Still working on my questions for the poll.

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