I was lucky enough to attend the very first PASS Summit in 1999. It was a brand new event, and while not overly large, it was busy and crowded in the basement of a Chicago Loop hotel. I had the chance to meet Kalen Delaney there and ask her a question. That was the highlight of the trip, but I also learned a lot about SQL Server 6.5 and 7 there, spending all the time I could in sessions and hanging out after each one listening to the questions others asked the speakers.
Since then, I have been lucky enough to go to most of the Summits. The event has changed a bit, and I look forward to going to see friends each year and re-connect with them. I've also loved meeting new people, often those I've corresponded with online. Each event has been memorable and exhausting at the same time. It's a busy week, and I can sometimes feel overwhelmed. However, it's always felt like it was worth the trip.
I saw a video from Kendra Little where she talks about what she's looking forward to this year. She has a few things on her mind: connecting with people, learning from the people who write the software, learning from those that use the software, broadening her horizons, and being a part of the data community.
My thoughts are similar. Last year I was looking forward to the event in person, but apprehensive with all the commitments I had for Redgate with speaking. This year I'm much less involved, working more on things before the Summit and I'm hoping I can enjoy the experience more with less work during the event.
For many years I was always excited about the SQL Server Central party. That was a highlight for me and I was sad when the referrals that funded it went away. Perhaps I'll get find a way to get it back in the future. For now, I want to connect with more people. I want to do this casually in a few ways. From the #sqltrain on Sunday to a few quiet dinners with friends during the week to taking time at night to attend some of the events that various vendors will sponsor, that will be a great chance to bond with friends (new and old) in a social way.
I also want to connect more professionally with people, which I'll do in the Community Zone, as Kendra suggests, but also around the convention center. I am planning on not having to rush to many things, which means I'll have more time in hallways and after sessions to talk tech with speakers and attendees. I'm always amazed by the ways some of you use databases and software, and I find myself learning creative solutions that I might suggest to others in the future.
The last thing that I'm looking forward to is the chance to motivate a few more people to run SQL Saturday events in 2024. We've had some new events in 2023, a few more than 2022, but not nearly as many as we used to see each year. I'm hoping to connect with more community leaders and volunteers to try and get them to consider organizing an event in the future.
The Summit is a great investment in your career as a data professional, and it can be a good investment for your employer. Make a case, show them you want to learn and grow, and that what you learn there will help you in your job. It's a park for those of you that bring value to your employer and the can help with retention. You'll gain knowledge and make contacts that help you on a daily basis.
I hope to see you in Seattle this November.