When I decided to switch careers about 25 years ago, I had no idea how far I would go in tech. I just wanted to leave the profession for which I had trained and become a developer. My goal was to make the switch by the end of 1998. It actually happened in the summer of 1997 due to a series of fortunate events, and I eventually focused on SQL Server just a few years later.
I never imagined that I would someday write books or present at conferences. I’m not sure why, but having a full-time job writing software or administering SQL Servers didn’t end up being enough for me. In 2004, I decided to get involved with the SQL Server community by volunteering at PASS, writing articles for SQL Server Central, and speaking at user group meetings.
Just six months after I started writing, Brian Knight asked me to write a chapter in a book. At that point, being part of a book project was something I never even thought would be possible for me. It wasn’t long before I was approached by Apress to write my own book.
I’ve also had success speaking. I’ve presented at PASS Summit several times as well as events in the US, Canada, UK, and Norway. Public speaking is often considered one of the scariest things a person can do, but I find it very rewarding.
At first, I thought these community activities were just fun things to do, but eventually I realized that they would lead to opportunities that I could never imagine. Even the job I have now at Redgate is a direct result of my involvement in the data platform community.
Lately, I’ve been helping others who reach out to me for advice about writing books or for feedback on their session abstracts. Since I know what presenting and writing can do for one’s career, I was thrilled when I was asked to be a panellist for Speaker Idol at PASS Summit.
If you have seen American Idol, you probably have an idea about Speaker Idol. At the Summit, twelve contestants each have five minutes to give a presentation. The panellists give feedback and pick a finalist from each of three rounds. The overall winner is chosen during the final round on Friday afternoon. The Speaker Idol prize is a guaranteed speaking slot at the following year’s Summit.
If you have always wanted to speak at PASS Summit but have never been selected or maybe just never felt brave enough to apply, this is your chance to compete for a slot at the 2020 Summit. Even if you don’t win, just participating in Speaker Idol often leads to getting selected in the regular call for speakers. Like any other speaking opportunity, you’ll get noticed. As a bonus, you’ll also get valuable feedback from the panellists, all experienced speakers.
Speaking at PASS Summit is a big deal, and attendees expect that the speakers will be great. If you have been presenting at user groups, SQL Saturdays, or other events for a couple of years, I encourage you to apply for Speaker Idol.