I recently received an email from a reader asking about free training for SQL Server. Without giving it a second thought I recommended SQL Saturday. These events, now going on two years strong, are single-day training sessions on all things SQL Server as well professional development sessions geared towards the database professional. The high-level of speaker talent, stong and diverse topic lists, and price (free) make it perfect for those looking for free training within a reasonable driving distance. This individual was in the DC area and with both Charlotte, NC and Richmond, VA conducting their SQL Saturday events this gave him a couple options almost immediately.
In a subsequent email he raised concerns that SQL Saturday was geared towards the advanced user. My immediate response was that I did not believe that was the case. However, two weeks later I found myself trying to assist an attendee with selecting entry-level sessions for her day on the Microsoft Campus. I could only come up with two sessions that fit that category. I’ve since begun reviewing future SQL Saturdays that have been planned and am starting to think he was onto something.
This leads me to make the following plea:
We were all beginners – noobs – green – fresh meat at some point in our careers. How did you learn? Did you wish there were events geared towards your level that were not simply classroom-based instructor-led-read-it-from-the-Microsoft-manual diatribes? I know I did! Submit beginning-level sessions to SQL Saturday events you plan to attend and present at. Furthermore, submit beginning-level sessions when the call for speakers opens for the PASS Community Summit next month. Finally, if you’re a SQL Server Chapter Leader and reading this be sure to plan periodic entry-level sessions for your local chapter meetings. Encourage those members of your groups who have never spoke before or have limited speaking experience to present 15-minute entry level sessions in order to gain experience. I will be puting my words into action: I’m scrapping one of the presentations I had planned for SQL Saturday Chicago, scheduled for April 17,2010, and am instead replacing it with an session that will be 2/3 SQL + 1/3 Schoolhouse Rock + 2/9 Dr. Seuss. All geared towards educating entry level users of SQL Server and having (hopefully) a little fun in the process.
Furthermore I’m taking on a new challenge that may cost me some readers here at thesqlagentman.com. I’m going to start focusing (almost) exclusively on beginner’s tips. Stay tuned for a special section on this website called SQL N00b Crew focused strictly on Beginning SQL. I’m also going to lobby for a special Beginers track at each new SQL Saturday that has yet to finalize their track configurations and will use my position on the PASS Program Committee to develop a Beginners track at the PASS Community Summit starting in 2011. I will also be focusing on exclusively-intro tips via my http://twitter.com/sql11 (as in 411, but with a SQL twist.)
I feel blessed to have found a career that is both challenging and fulfilling. I can only hope that I can foster that sense of fulfillment in others that are just starting in the industry. I would really like it if I didn’t take this on alone. Join me.
As a side note, Jorge Segara started a similar initiative in 2009 called SQL University along with some of the top SQL Bloggers/Educators/Presenters out there today. We all get busy of course, and I’ve not seen new content in 2010 yet, but I suspect we’ve not heard the last of SQL University.