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SQL Saturday Advice - Build a Foundation

I think this is a good idea, and I’ll give you some reasons, but every SQL Saturday ought to consider having a few sessions an hour before the main event starts.
When the Rocky Mountain TechTrifecta v2 came to Denver this past February, I was one of 7 or 8 people that was asked to run an early morning session. From 7:30-8:30, before the 9:00am kickoff, we had a number of sessions in various rooms that were essentially discussions. I actually picked up someone else’s session since they couldn’t make it, and had about 10 slides, but it was really me leading a discussion with 6 or 7 people in the room.
I wondered what was the point, but as I talked with Julie Yack, the organizer, she said that the previous year they’d had lots of people show up early to register and then stood around, not knowing what to do. I’ve seen that in other events, including many SQL Saturday’s as well. It takes time to register 200+ people, even if you are just giving out a name badge, and so the first person to come in has a lot of time to waste.
There’s also a lot of people that come to SQL Saturday that are very new beginners. They don’t understand a lot about SQL Server, and they’ll get lost during other sessions. Or they are experienced in one area, but not another.
This is the time for a basic foundation for SQL Server. Honestly I would suggest that every SQL Saturday recruit 4 or 5 speakers, and offer these basic sessions, a very, very junior level session, before the main event.
  1. Introduction to SQL Server
  2. Introduction to Reporting Services
  3. Introduction to Querying in T-SQL
  4. Introduction to Integration Services
  5. Introduction to Analysis Services (if you have speakers in this area)
Set up a few rooms, start them at 7:30 if you start the event at 9:00 and publicize them for beginners. You will have some very, very happy attendees.

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by Rafael Salas on 15 July 2010

I like the idea. Perhaps SQL Saturday should have some of those sessions ready to be facilitated by the speakers. I think that would do the recruitment easier.

Posted by Steve Jones on 15 July 2010

I agree with that. I have been pushing the advanced speakers, ones that can handle a second session, to do one of these early. It's a commitment, and makes for a long day, but I think worth it.

Posted by swjohnson on 15 July 2010

I like it.  I think it would also promote networking and many people (myself included) prefer smaller group give/take types of discussions.  

Posted by Patrick LeBlanc on 15 July 2010

We had several requests for foundation sessions at our first SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge.  As a result, we have included four 7:30 foundation sessions this year.

Posted by John Racer on 15 July 2010

This is a great idea. I may have to put together another presentation for my mix.

Posted by Steve Jones on 15 July 2010

One other great thing I got from someone on Twitter. Get a developer to do a basic VB/C# one for DBAs. Maybe buy them lunch.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 15 July 2010

Excellent ideas.

Maybe one session should be a Who's Who and where to get SQL help session..

Posted by Glenn Berry on 16 July 2010

Introductory sessions can be very useful for many people. It is too easy to assume that everyone is looking for 300-400 level sessions.

Posted by Dave Schutz on 19 July 2010

This is a great idea. We had our first SQL Saturday last month in Columbus, Ohio and I'll look to implement this next year.


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