Kirsten Benzel a gentleman and Melody Zacharias at PASS Summit 2014

Amazing Week at PASS Summit 2014

Last week was my first PASS Summit, and there are just no words for how amazing it was.

PASS Summit is something you have to plan for. I used the schedule builder way in advance to cherry pick my sessions, then took screenshots of it in the PASS iPhone app; I was glad I did because it was slow at times. I had also been chatty on Twitter and learned of events, and then learned yet more as I met additional #SQLFamily as the weeks passed!

If you’re doing it right, you’ll attend sessions every day and at least one event every night and will not sleep more than four or five hours. Advice: bring your vitamins. I doubled up on my vitamins and probiotics and felt fine despite being one of those self-professed, non-functionals with less than 8 hours of sleep.

Pre-Conference Sessions Worthwhile

SurveyMonkey was also generous enough to send me to a PreCon, so I went to Grant Fritchey’s on Query Performance Tuning in SQL 2014. It was, as expected, amazing. I’d recommend trying to get at least one PreCon in to your schedule to hone in on one of your areas of interest or weakness.

Grant Fritchey presenting a Pre-Conference seminar at PASS Summit 2014
Grant Fritchey presenting the Pre-Conference seminar "Query Performance Tuning in SQL 2014" at PASS Summit 2014.

I flew in early on Saturday night because I promised Adam Machanic I’d run #SQLLongRun on Sunday if our Doctors Without Borders fundraiser Argenis Without Borders reached $10k. My PASS started at 7AM Sunday morning where I got to meet Jen of the Midnight DBAs!

Fabulous to Meet SQL Server Colleagues

I left Monday wide-open in case I needed recovery from #SQLLongRun, but instead found myself in the convention center at 9AM taking advantage of the PASS special of half-off certification exams.

I had won a @sqlpass Twitter contest for saying what I looked forward to most—which was to get to finally shake the hands of those whose contributions helped my career. But, I had to Tweet to @sqlpass that I may have misspoken! I was not shaking hands, I was hugging people like crazy! (They didn’t mind!) There is something infectious and awesome about the #SQLFamily that brings the hugger out of this introvert.

Kirsten Benzel at PASS Summit 2014
Kirsten greeting a SQL Server community "family member" at PASS Summit 2014.

Bring Plenty of Business Cards

Another tip: bring business cards. Bring twice as many as you’d estimate you’ll need. I made my own on Zazzle and gave them out all week, and came home with a stack from others as well. I also gained about 150 new Twitter followers; this is a serious networking opportunity. I cannot count the number of times an unfamiliar voice yelled, SQL Snark! Is that you?! And it ended in a giant hug.

Things to do besides learn: dinners, karaoke, runs, photo walks . . . watch Twitter for webcasts for first-timers to get inside tips and wristbands for parties, and such. There were specialty things, like Kilt Thursday. And I found myself dying beards and hair blue for wonderful people I had JUST met!

Technology Tips

Last of all, my biggest stressor was my iPhone battery life. At one dinner @SQLrUS recommended these and they are shipped and on their way to me as we speak:

You'll want these, or the equivalent, to keep you going.

$13K Raised for Doctors Without Borders

I’d like to end by saying that our #SQLFamily raised an even $13,000 for Doctors Without Borders! As we wandered the conference with (temporary) rainbow face tattoos, giving out badge ribbons that Idera made for us, the donations rolled in. This community rocks: A very special thank you to Idera for supporting us with a generous donation, gorgeous badge ribbons, and a press release!

I hope to see you at PASS Summit 2015!

Kirsten Benzel in the Community Zone at PASS Summit 2014
Kirsten Benzel relaxing in the Community Zone at PASS Summit 2014.

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