T-SQL Tuesday 153: The Conference Changed Everything For Me

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T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party hosted by a different community member each month, and this month Kevin Kline (blog | twitter) asks us to talk about an IT conference that resulted in a major opportunity.

Tell us the story of how attending an IT conference or event resulted in an amazing career or life opportunity.

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It will be a common refrain in this community, but I’m going to pick a PASS Summit. But not my first one.

My First PASS Summit

I first attended PASS Summit in 2012, about 8 months after I was introduced to the SQL Server community. I went, only knowing a few people who were there (and with maybe 3 exceptions, only knowing/knowing of them from Twitter). I walked into the Washington State Convention Center and by the time I reached the Skybridge, I came to the realization that I had found my people. I’ve written about that experience twice before and wont rehash it here. It was an amazing experience, and started me down a path. From there, I attended a couple SQL Saturdays (local and away from home), then Summit 2014, helped organize several SQL Saturdays and spoke at a couple as well. Eventually, these got me to start blogging somewhat regularly.

All of this is good stuff, and definitely had an impact on my life and career. No denying that. But it wasn’t “the big one.”

The Summit That Changed Things

PASS Summit 2017 was the big one for me, the one that had the most impact. This was my third Summit, and in the intervening years I’d been to several SQL Saturdays, run a couple of them, was active in my local user group, and knew a bunch of folks from Twitter and the SQL Community Slack. I had also started to get involved with the dbatools and I feel like Summit 2017 was really where the project made its first really big splash. Over a dozen contributors were in attendance including our BDFL Chrissy LeMaire (blog | twitter), there was an entire pre-con for dbatools, several regular sessions (either sessions about it, or sessions mentioning it in passing), members of the team sat on at least on panel discussion, and more!

But Summit 2017 wasn’t just about dbatools for me. That was the year I figured out how to break out of my shell and meet people. A lot of people. Armed with a list of people I knew from Twitter and Slack, I started introducing myself to people, whether it was at lunch, an after-hours event, at Games Night, in the hallways and Exhibitor Hall, or finding myself sitting near them in a session. And then I got to introduce folks to other folks as well. What an amazing feeling!

The SQL Server community is already a niche in the tech world, and at Summit 2017, I felt like I found my niche within that niche as a contributor to and advocate for dbatools. That inspired me to keep using it more at work, blog about it more, and start using it for presentations - at user groups, SQL Saturdays, and eventually all the way to PASS Summit 2021.

When I arrived at Summit 2012, I had no idea that someday I’d get to present on that (virtual, thanks to COVID-19) stage, on that scale. Between the content I was inspired to create, and the people I met who pushed me to submit a session, I can draw a line right from attending Summit 2017 to presenting at Summit 2021.