How to go the Summit

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Career, Events, SQLServerPedia Syndication

A recent presentation I gave about Interviewing Tips provided me with a number of great questions that I thought I would expand on. One that I get often looks a lot like this:

I was curious if you had any suggestions or tips on how to get one’s employer to pay for the PASS summit.  I’ve made proposals many times over the years to have my boss pay for professional training. Sometimes they’d pay, other times not. But, it just seems over the last few years’ employers have become less keen on paying for employees to further their tech skills.

Any thoughts you have are most appreciated.


A few thoughts come to mind quickly…

  • When you are getting ready to ask for a conference such as the PASS Summit. Make a list of some of the challenges you have been facing, or maybe a list of some of the things that you want to make sure you learn about. When you list specific goals you now have a means of measurement to determine success of the event. Sure it is great to just go and sit to absorb as much as you can, but a clear defined goal always helps.
  • If you have been to an event in the past, consider the items that you have learned in the past. If you can show how it has helped you and helped the company I think your chance of success is much better.
  • I am not sure if I am making this point as well as I would like to… In your discussions be sure to stress the things you cannot learn until you know you need to learn them. Let me give you an example. If you were to turn around and try to implement database mirroring and you had never done that before. You will find a number of awesome check lists, some in blogs, with a lot of detail in books on-line. However, if you we sitting down over lunch, I would be sure to bring up things such as making sure you sync jobs and logins. I would mention how you might want to look at a custom index plan if you were on a maintenance plan. Could you find this elsewhere? Maybe, but it takes a bit of research and a lot of time. It is better to know what potential obstacles you may run into well before you find them in your production environment.
  • Inform the company that the event is going to help you build your network. I can’t tell you how many people I know that are strong in areas of technology where I am week. I am not just referring to SQL Server, it is amazing once this network is built on how many people can help you. I am a DBA, I don’t do a lot outside of SQL Server but when I asked my network about RDP Management tools, I found Remote Desktop Manager.
  • If I sat and thought about it I bet there are many more examples I could come up with…

What if the issue is cost? Some companies don’t always have the budget to do these things, I just recently learned of a company whose health costs have gone up each year the last 3 years by 20% a year. Yet the company has not passed this along to the employees. There are ways that you can help lessen the impact and to be honest the time to start is now.

  • Have you considered rooming with someone? This is a big cost, if you can split in half or even thirds would this get your company to send you?
  • Have you considered working with your local users group, or volunteering for PASS? There are many ways to get the basic conference fee covered if you are helping out.
  • Do you have any vendors that are planning on going? Sometimes they are willing to sponsor people to attend the event.
  • Sign up early, the sooner you do the better the price gets. If I remember correctly when you are at a summit, you can sign up for next years at a big discount. The closer you get to the Event, the price normally goes up. As I write this, the cost is $1300 If you were to sign up before Jan 1st time frame I think it was about $1,000.00.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles if you have them.

If all else fails… Remember you are a resource to a company. If they can’t invest in you to make you a better resource for them, should you be investing in you to make you a better resource?

I hope I have passed along a few ideas.


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