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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! :)

Goodbye Comfort Zone! – Starting a New Job

Right now, as I write this, I’m between jobs. Earlier today I finished my last day as an in-house data warehouse solutions architect and business intelligence developer. Tomorrow I’m starting my new job as a technical architect in a consulting company. It’s sad to say goodbye to wonderful coworkers, but it’s also very exciting (and scary!) to start a new chapter in my life.

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Goodbye 2015, hello 2016!

Happy New Year 2016! :)

Happy New Year 2016

2015 was a year of highs and lows for me. I did so many things for the first time and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I made new friends and grew closer to old friends. At the same time I struggled more than ever with my old enemies depression, insomnia, migraine and impostor syndrome. All in all, I guess you can call it “life” :)

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Thankful

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Norway, but I wanted to participate in “What Are You Thankful For?” hosted by Bob (@SQLBob) this year. Instead of posting on a day we don’t celebrate in my country, I decided to wait until the first Sunday in Advent. It marks the start of the time of year where I spend the most time with my family and feel truly thankful for so many things in my life.

I’m thankful for my closest family. My parents, my older sister, my niece, and my dad’s best friend who has been my uncle for as long as I can remember. We have and always will be there for each other, no matter what. At the age of 27 I still look forward to going home and spending time with my family, and I’m lucky to have them in my life.

I’m thankful for wonderful friends, coworkers and #SQLFamily, more than I will ever be able to explain. I had no network and have been fighting a depression and all its nasty companions for many years. Getting to know these people and having them in my life to share smiles, laughs, experiences and memories with, who challenge me to become a better person, who welcomed me from day one… They changed my life and keep me going every day. Thank you.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to help others. I discovered Kiva years ago and instantly fell in love with the idea of microloans and helping people create better lives for themselves. I believe it’s important for everyone to achieve something, and I hope that the borrowers are left with a feeling of “I did this! I did this!” when they’ve paid back their loan. $25 is so little to me, but it can change someone’s life. In Norway I support The Church City Mission in Oslo because they work hard for a better society for everyone.

I’m thankful I’m healthy, I have a secure job, I live in a safe country where I will get help if I need it, I get to travel and see new places, I get to experience four seasons with dark winters and the overwhelming joy when it gets lighter and warmer. I’m thankful I have so many things to be thankful for :)

A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013

PASS Summit 2013It’s not easy to write about PASS Summit 2013 in a structured way. Just like the summit was buzzing with energy I feel like running around tossing keywords and hashtags at people: #SQLFamily! Ribbons! First timers! Sessions! #SQLKaraoke! Exhibitor booths! It was all a little overwhelming, very exciting and awesomely fun at the same time.

Tip #1: Tweet and use hashtags! You’ll connect with many people in the community and they might even approach you because they recognize you from Twitter. #SQLFirstTimers, #SQLPass and #Summit13 worked wonders for me :)

This year the PASS Summit was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I traveled from Norway I arrived on Saturday to have a couple of days to adjust and be a tourist. Sunday was all about roller-coasters in Carowinds for me, so I’ll skip that day and fast-forward to Monday when the fun really began.

Even though this strictly wasn’t a part of the summit I have to mention Redgate’s SQL in the City event on Monday, since that really was my first experience with the SQL community. I hadn’t signed up for the pre-conferences at the summit, but was lucky enough to get to attend this event instead. Redgate’s tools have saved me a lot of time and frustrations, and it was a great opportunity to learn, talk with the developers and see people like Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey present live.

Redgate also invited attendees to an informal networking event on Monday night. Deciding to go to that event was a great idea as that was where I met a lot of great people for the first time. I also met quite a few people who asked me if I knew Tone, a fellow Norwegian whom they all missed. Unfortunately I didn’t, but we quickly got introduced via Twitter. Hopefully we’ll get together at the SQL Server User Group Norway one day!

Tip #2: Say hi to people! I’m a shy introvert and my first day alone in a foreign country at an event where I knew no one was truly terrifying, but I met a couple of great people who introduced me to some other great people who introduced me to some other great people and after a little while it became easier to introduce myself :) Just go for it!

Tuesday was the first day of the actual Pass Summit 2013 conference for me. I attended the “Get to know your community” session hosted by Kevin Kline and Kendal Van Dyke, met up with my PASS Summit buddy Aaron Nelson and the rest of his first-timers group, attended the First-Timers Orientation Meeting, and then the Welcome Reception. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke!

PASS Summit 2013 BadgeAll attendees had a name badge with their name, company, country and Twitter handle, as well as various ribbons on it. The badges were a great way to connect – you could easily take a look at the ribbons to see who were Speakers, Volunteers, MVPs (and more), instantly follow someone on Twitter, or just start a conversation about their company or home country.

On Wednesday I met a couple of nice ladies in the elevator at our hotel. We were all wearing our name badges with the First Timer ribbon, started to talk and decided to have breakfast together. For lunch I met up with fellow Norwegians at the PASS Chapter Luncheon. It was actually a bit strange to speak Norwegian again for an hour, but nice to get some new contacts in my home country.

Tip #3: 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 try to be the one who joins them instead?

Between all the food and coffee breaks I attended my first keynote and sessions. Trying to build my session schedule was actually quite frustrating – there were always at least a handful of sessions I wanted to attend! I really look forward to getting the USB stick with all the session recordings so I can watch the sessions I missed. In the evening I attended the Exhibitor Reception where I learned quite a lot about the vendors and also got some nice SQL swag. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again)!

On Thursday I started to feel the effects of not enough sleep and too much #SQLKaraoke :) I attended the Women In Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion which was a lot more than an event just for women. The topic of the day was “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity”. I encourage you to watch it on PASS TV. One of the highlights for me was Gail Shaw‘s response to the question “Do you have to make an effort to fit in?” – “No I don’t, because I can’t bloody well be bothered”. That answer earned a lot of applause from the audience!

On Thursday night we all gathered in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the Community Appreciation Party. And as if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again again)! I had no energy for karaoke that night, but spent a couple of hours getting to know Bob Pusateri and Andy Yun even better before going to bed early. The next time I’m going to PASS Summit I will definitely work harder on not getting tired ;)

Friday was a bit of a sad day and I wished it could be Tuesday so I could start all over again and do even more. Learn more, meet more people, be more active in the community. But instead of looking back I’m going to take all of these great experiences with me, look forward and use the new inspiration and energy to grow personally and professionally in 2014. I hope to attend and volunteer at a SQLSaturday, maybe even help organize one in Oslo. I hope to share my new knowledge with my co-workers and help improve our solutions at work. I hope to learn even more and get to know my new connections better. Maybe I’ll even make my own presentation and be a first-time speaker some day!

Tip #4: Keep in touch with everyone you met and take good care of your new #SQLFamily :)