Cathrine + PASS = New Community Evangelist

Cathrine WIlhelmsen is the new PASS Community EvangelistIt’s November, and that means I’m now officially a PASS employee! Yep, that’s right, I will be taking over as the PASS Community Evangelist after the wonderful Karla Landrum (@KarlaKay22). And to tell you the truth, it’s both extremely terrifying and super exciting at the same time :)

Many of you heard the news at PASS Summit 2016 after we announced it during the SQLSaturday organizers meeting, and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who congratulated me afterwards. You are the community, and it truly means a lot to me to hear that you think I’m the right person for this role.

Why did you accept the job as a Community Evangelist?
My family and best friends in the community weren’t surprised when I told them :) The PASS and SQL Server community has been such an important part of my life for the past three years. Getting involved has literally changed my life. At my first PASS Summit in 2013 I was a shy, socially awkward person who was terrified of talking to people. At PASS Summit 2016 I was a speaker presenting two regular sessions and a lightning talk, and my favorite part of it all was getting to know lots of amazing new people. Volunteering in this community has given me so much, and this is my chance to give something back.

Does that mean you won’t be working in tech anymore?
Well, yes. I won’t work as a consultant or architect or developer and I won’t get hands-on experience with projects and clients. This is a full-time community job. I’m sure I will miss working in tech, but I will try to keep up with everything that’s going on in the Microsoft Data Platform world at events and on weekends. (Because, you know, once a geek, always a geek!)

What will you do as a Community Evangelist?
Support regional mentors, chapter leaders and SQLSaturday organizers, and look for opportunities to establish new chapters and SQLSaturdays. I will also be administering the SQLSaturdays and help events go live, blog, monitor social media, and work with the PASS Board of Directors and PASS Headquarters to support global growth.

Will you continue speaking and blogging?
Part of my job as a Community Evangelist is to share everything that PASS has to offer and opportunities for volunteering, especially at events where people are new to the PASS community. That means I will still be speaking, but I will be speaking as a PASS representative, for example doing lunch sessions at SQLSaturdays. However, I will no longer be submitting to speak at PASS events like I used to. I will definitely still be blogging, and I hope that I actually may get back to blogging more regularly – especially when my fingers start itching to get some hands-on experience with Biml and SQL Server again :)

WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT KARLA!?
PANIC! No, hopefully not :) Karla has been a fantastic Community Evangelist and I know people all around the world will miss her terribly! We have started the onboarding and handover process, and we will be working together for a couple of weeks so I can learn as much as possible about the job from her. While I know I won’t be able to fill Karla’s shoes, I promise I will do my absolute best for this community!

Let’s rock!
This is all you, #SQLFamily. You’re the heart and soul of PASS, just continue doing amazing things for your local communities and I will do what I can in this new role to support you. This is already the best community in the world, let’s make it even better in the next couple of years! :)

Speaking at PASS Summit 2016

Speaking at PASS Summit 2016

The first time I submitted to PASS Summit was in 2015. My Lightning Talk was accepted, and I was so excited about getting the opportunity to speak at the largest SQL Server conference in the world! I had a fantastic time, so I decided to try again and submit for PASS Summit 2016 as well.

While on vacation in Spain with my family, I woke up to an e-mail from PASS HQ. The Call for Speakers Results! I was reading the e-mail on my phone, so it felt like I was scrolling and reading and scrolling and reading and scrolling and reading until I finally got to the actual results.

Accepted!

Accepted!?

ACCEPTED!??

I didn’t just get one of my sessions accepted. I got 2 general sessions and 1 lightning talk accepted. I nearly fainted! I had to read it several times before it sunk in. I’m going to speak at PASS Summit 2016. Not once. Not twice. But three times in one week.

…WHOA!

Wuuut!?

I have mixed feelings. I’m super excited, super happy, and extremely honored to be selected! But I also know several amazing speakers who definitely should speak at the PASS Summit who weren’t selected this year. In one way it feels like I stole a session from someone who deserves it more than me. At the same time, I literally jumped around of joy when I read my e-mail. It’s difficult. I’m happy that I was selected, I’m happy for the other speakers who were selected, I’m especially happy for my friends who are speaking at the PASS Summit for the first time, but I’m also sad to hear about all my friends who weren’t selected. But next year! I’ll cross my fingers that it’s their turn next year :)

My sessions at PASS Summit 2016

I will present three sessions at PASS Summit 2016:

Biml for Beginners: Speed Up Your SSIS Development (General Session, 75 minutes)
Advance Your Career by Becoming a Volunteer (General Session, 75 minutes)
5 Ways to Advance Your Career by Becoming a Volunteer (Lightning Talk, 10 minutes)

The Biml for Beginners session is one of my favorites, and I’m so happy I get to present it at PASS Summit! :D I’m happy I have 15 minutes extra compared to the usual 60-minute sessions at SQLSaturdays. It allows me to go a little more into detail on some of my demos, or spend more time on audience questions. This is going to be fun!

I’m also really excited about presenting a Professional Development session and a Lightning Talk version of it. Volunteering has truly changed my life. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for getting involved in the PASS and SQL Server community. I hope that I can pay it forward and inspire someone else to get involved – maybe an upcoming SQLSaturday organizer or speaker? :)

Every PASS Summit I’ve been to has been a new and unique experience. I can’t wait to see what PASS Summit 2016 is going to be like! I’m sure I will be freaking out about my sessions :D But I also know I will have lots of fun, and I can’t wait to see lots of friends from all over the world again. YAY!

 

Abstract Feedback

Several speakers have shared their abstract feedback after the results were made public. Brent Ozar has added a list of these speakers to his own feedback post. I appreciate the transparency, I learn a lot from reading other people’s feedback, and I hope that it will help the community as a whole and improve the selection process next year – so I’m jumping on the bandwagon :)

 

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Ready for PASS Summit 2015?

PASS Summit 2015

There are only a few weeks left until PASS Summit 2015! Are you as excited as I am!? :D

Tips for PASS Summit First-Timers
First of all: Hi to you! :) PASS Summit is a fun, crazy and amazing event and I hope you get as much out of the week as you possibly can. It can all seem very overwhelming at first, especially if you’re new to the SQL Server community. But don’t worry! The SQL Server community is the best community in the world, and we’re happy to welcome you to the #SQLFamily.

Tip #1: Twitter

If you don’t already have a Twitter account, get one! It’s a great way to get the latest news about what’s happening, connect with attendees, and keep in touch with everyone when you get back home. Follow @sqlpass and use the hashtags #SQLPass, #Summit15 and #SQLFirstTimers to make sure everyone can see your tweets. I recommend using Tweetdeck to organize content into columns, for example a column just for the hashtags mentioned above. It makes it so much easier to use Twitter.

Tip #2: Say “hi!”

I know, I know, I know. People are scary. It can be terrifying to look up from your phone, step out of your comfort zone and approach someone you don’t know. Do it anyway! You will meet so many interesting people, and you will get so much more out of your PASS Summit experience. Maybe it will become a life-changing experience like it did for me and so many others? You won’t know unless you go for it :)

A tip is to look at people’s name badges and ribbons. It will tell you where they’re from, if they’re first-timers, if they’re speaking, if they’re chapter leaders and so on. If you get completely stuck and feel completely awkward and feel like running away, like I have on many occasions, just point at the name badge and read something on it with a question mark at the end. “Summit Volunteer…?” “BimlUser…?” “MVP…?” – and off you go! ;)

Here’s a short list of questions to get you started:

  • How was your trip to PASS Summit?
  • How is Seattle compared to where you’re from?
  • How did you get started working with SQL Server?
  • What did you think of the keynote / session / luncheon?
  • Which sessions are you planning to attend?
  • Which session has been your favorite so far?
  • You’re a first-timer as well! What has been your favorite part of PASS Summit?

And so on. I’m sure you can add a hundred more to the list! :)

Tip #3: Attend the evening events and don’t eat alone

I know, I’m really pushing this whole “network and be social” thing, aren’t I? :) We all need some quiet time, but try to join someone for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are always someone who are too shy to sit down at a table and introduce themselves, why don’t you join them instead? The Women In Technology and Birds of a Feather luncheons are great events where you can learn and eat at the same time. Finally, attend the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor Reception and Community Appreciation Party where there’s more food, drinks and lots of people having fun. If you’re not done for the night, there are plenty of after hour events organized by and for the community. Have you heard of #SQLKaraoke? It’s a thing. You must experience it once during PASS Summit ;)

Tip #4: Hang out in the Community Zone

There are comfortable bean bags, power outlets and always something going on. You’ll usually find a bunch of people who are active in the community running user groups, SQLSaturdays and virtual chapters. This is the best place to hear how you can keep learning when you get back from PASS Summit. Also, did I mention fun? This year there will be a TeaSQL event for tea lovers, you might spot some crazy costumes and kilts, or you can try juggling said bean bags :)

Tip #5: Get even more tips for first-timers

Attend the PASS Summit first-timers events to get even more tips and meet other first-timers. Read Edwin Sarmiento’s great first-timers guide and read all the blog posts by other members of the SQL Server community. And don’t forget to use Twitter. There are some great #PASSAdvice for all attendees, and just ask if you have any questions!

See you in Seattle!
Enjoy your week, make new friends and learn lots of cool new things. I hope you have a fantastic time in Seattle, and I hope to talk to you there! Please come and say hi if you see me, and I hope to read your tweets :) See you soon!

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Costumes for Charity at PASS Summit 2015

Argenis Without Borders at PASS Summit 2014If you attended PASS Summit 2014, you probably noticed the Rainbow Unicorn Hoodie, the Fluffy Rainbow Leggings, the Rainbow Wings and the I ♥ Unicorns ribbons. It was the result of Argenis Without Borders and the SQL Server community raising over $13000 (!) for Doctors Without Borders.

And they’re doing it again with Argenis Without Borders 2.0! Please help support a good cause and let’s have some fun while doing it :)

PASS Summit 2015 is close to Halloween, so this year it’s all about Costumey-Crazy Hat-Crazy Fun. #SQLFamily raised over $1000 and reached the first goal in just 1 hour (!) and we all look forward to seeing Argenis in a Ted costume :D

The next goal is $5000. A whole bunch of people from the SQL Server community, myself included, will dress up in costumes and/or hats during PASS Summit when we reach this goal. At $10000, one lucky donor will win a PS4 or Xbox One. (Hey, even if you don’t care about supporting a good cause, donate anyway for the chance to win a really cool prize!) And there are more fun things to look forward to if we do better than last year. Can I tempt you with some embarrassing dancing to beautiful trombone music?

This is such a fun and silly event that it can be easy to forget what it is all about. We can help save lives. Imagine what Doctors Without Borders could do if each of the 5000 PASS Summit attendees donated just $5? What if we decide to skip a drink during PASS Summit and raise the amount to $10? So little, yet so much.

Donate to Argenis Without Borders 2.0 today! :)

Ready for SQLSaturday #337 Oregon and PASS Summit 2014

PASS Summit 2014I’ve looked forward to this day since last year, and it’s finally here! Today I’m back in the US for an intense week of fun learning. First a few days in Portland for SQLSaturday #337 Oregon, then a week in Seattle for Redgate SQL in the City and PASS Summit 2014.

Do you know how to clone a person? If, so please get in touch! According to my schedule I need to be in 3-4 places at all times. There is so much I want to do, so many places I want to see and so many people I want to meet! Just in case I forget my own plans, here’s a reminder to myself, and it’s also an invitation to anyone who reads this. Please come over and say hi if you’re in the same place as me :)

Thursday October 30th
After traveling across eight time zones for 15 hours on Wednesday I’m curious to see how jet lagged I’ll be on Thursday. I plan to walk over to Pike Place Market for coffee and breakfast. Yes, the original Starbucks. Yes, I will stand in line with all the other tourists. Yes, I have to, I am a tourist ;) After that it’s off to Portland by train. Since my hotel is right next to Lloyd Center mall I might have to take a look around when I get there, I’ve never seen a mall with an ice rink before.

Friday October 31st
Halloween in Portland! The main thing on my to-do list is to eat a Voodoo Doughnut :) I’ll be a proper tourist during the day, and then I’ll head over to the SQLSaturday speaker dinner where I will get to see some friends I haven’t seen since last year! I won’t speak at this event, but I’m happy I can help out as a volunteer. Also looking forward to talking to the organizers about their experiences with the event compared to my experience organizing SQLSaturday Oslo.

Saturday November 1st
SQLSaturday #337 Oregon! I’ve signed up as a volunteer room proctor at 9:00, speaker room monitor at 10:30 and 2:45, and then room proctor again at 4:30. That means I’ll probably miss a few sessions, but hopefully I will learn even more about running events like these so I can be more prepared for next year’s SQLSaturday in Oslo. Many people will probably travel to Seattle on Saturday night to get back in time for MVP Summit, but I hope to check out some of the local brews and food pods.

Sunday November 2nd
What’s a typical breakfast in Portland? I need to try one before I take the train back to Seattle. In the evening I’ll meet my three coworkers for dinner. I’ve reserved a table at a restaurant with a nice view for us, but they don’t know where we’re going until we get there. Hope they will enjoy my surprise! :) It will be nice to spend a night with my coworkers, it’s their first time at PASS Summit so I plan to give them the whole first-timers session myself :D

Monday November 3rd
Redgate SQL in the City! This is where my entire SQL community journey started last year, so I’m very excited to go back this year. I actually watched the live feed from SQL in the City London, so I plan to attend the sessions they didn’t broadcast there. After SQL in the City I actually have three events in my calendar, and I want to attend all of them! How do you decide which events to go to?

Tuesday November 4th
This is going to be a very special day for me, since it’s my birthday :) I haven’t signed up for any precons, so I have most of the day off to do a bit of sightseeing. In the afternoon I’ll attend the SQLSaturday Round Table meeting where I look forward to meeting more organizers and learn more to make our next SQLSaturday better. I especially look forward to the sponsor Q&A and tips & tricks panel discussion. Later that day I’ve signed up as a volunteer to guide attendees to the first-timers event, and then I’m off to the Welcome Reception. After that? #SQLKaraoke, of course!

Wednesday November 5th
Summit time! This is where I could really use a couple of clones so I won’t miss any sessions. I’ve roughly planned my schedule, but based on last year’s experience it will probably change a lot. Maybe I meet someone interesting and talk to them instead of attending a session, maybe there are exciting chalk talks, maybe I spend some time in the Community Zone – there’s a lot happening there this year! I’ll be there for the Nordic Region hour from 4:30-5:30, so come over and say hi if you see me. I have candy! ;) It’s also SQLSaturday and SQLRally shirt day, so I will wear my beloved pink SQLSaturday Oslo shirt. At the end of the day it’s Speaker Idol Round 1, and I want to be there and cheer for the contestants! After that I’ll go talk to the exhibitors at the Exhibitor Reception, I need more fun swag in my collection. These guys are the ones who make events like SQLSaturdays and PASS Summit possible, so I want to say thank you. After that? #SQLKaraoke, of course!

Thursday November 6th
I had planned to attend the Women In Technology (WIT) luncheon, so I signed up as a volunteer there as well. I’m very interested in hearing about (and I quote) “how we can all imagine a world where everyone is given the tools to succeed”. There’s also Speaker Idol Round 2, and the Community Appreciation Party. This year it’s held at the EMP Museum, which I’m super excited to see! Unfortunately it crashes with the Nordic User Group dinner, so I need to figure out how to go to both. Again, if you know how to clone someone, please please please let me know :)

Friday November 7th
Last day of PASS Summit :( But there are some cool things happening this day. There’s Speaker Idol Round 3 and Speaker Idol Final Round. I can’t wait to see who will get to speak at PASS Summit 2015! There’s also the Birds of a Feather luncheon. That will be tricky, there are so many topics to choose from. I’m pretty sure I will be at one of the community / volunteer tables, since that’s what I’m most passionate about. Maybe I’ll help inspire someone else to start a SQLSaturday in a new place :)

Goals
I have a couple of personal goals this year:
– Help my coworkers have an amazing time during PASS Summit
– Submit feedback directly after each session to give the best possible feedback. It’s so important for the speakers!
– Don’t sit down alone and stare at phone / look at schedule / dig through purse unless I am actually trying to find information. Find someone to talk to instead :)
– Always join someone for coffee and meals
– Meet as many of my friends as possible, and make new friends
– Most importantly: have fun :)

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