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.

But wait, didn’t you just get a new job?
Yes, I did. I started as a consultant in Advania in June, and I’ve had a fantastic few months with them. They’ve been very supportive of everything I’ve done, they’re a great bunch of guys, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish in the next couple of years!

So 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.

Are you going to work from Norway?
For a while I will be working from Norway, then I will move to Vancouver in Canada so I can work closer with PASS Headquarters. Whoa! I’ve wanted to work abroad for a while, and this is a unique opportunity for me. I’ve always said I like to push myself out of my comfort zone. This time I’m pushing myself way out of my comfort zone and all the way over to a different continent.

Will you continue speaking and blogging?
Updated on November 3rd: My original post said that no, I will no longer be able to speak at PASS-branded events like SQLSaturdays and PASS Summit. That’s only partly true, and I apologize for not being clearer on this. 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! :)

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! :)

I’m a Microsoft SQL Server MVP

Microsoft SQL Server MVP (Most Valuable Professional)I spent most of July 1st relaxing in the sun, reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and enjoying my vacation. I spent the rest of July 1st reading, re-reading and re-re-reading the e-mail I received from Microsoft congratulating me with my first MVP Award.

On July 1st 2015, I became a Microsoft SQL Server MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in Norway.

Unfortunately my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy did not have Don’t Panic written in large, friendly letters on the cover. So I panicked a little. I think I may have panicked more than just a little. Actually, I’m pretty sure I panicked a lot:

Sheldon Panicking

You see, I had mixed feelings about becoming an MVP. I am truly honored and thankful, but it is also very intimidating to be part of a group with so many talented people that I admire. I don’t have decades of experience, I’m not a SQL Server expert, I haven’t published any books and I haven’t created any scripts that are used all over the world. Why should I deserve to become an MVP? I panicked a little (or a lot) because I compared myself to those who are years ahead of me down the road, and because it felt like I cut in line in front of amazing people who deserves the award more than me.

So I took a step back and thought about what the MVP Award means to me. To quote Microsoft: MVPs are community leaders who’ve demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technologies. They share their exceptional passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft.

To me, it’s all about community. I may not be the most experienced SQL Server expert, but I helped restart SQL Server User Group Norway. I was the main organizer of the first SQLSaturday in Oslo and currently organizing the second one. I’ve volunteered and presented sessions online, in Europe and in the US. I blog, I tweet and I do my best to help others.

And I love it. Being recognized by Microsoft and getting a thank you for what I have done this past year means so much to me. Thank you to everyone who has been there for me and believed in me, it means more to me than I can say. Receiving the MVP Award inspires me even more to give back and pay it forward, to keep learning and sharing my knowledge, to help grow the Norwegian SQL Server community.

I’m just getting started :)

Giving back to the SQL Community in 2015 (T-SQL Tuesday #61)

T-SQL TuesdayWayne Sheffield (@DBAWayne) is hosting T-SQL Tuesday #61, the last one of the year, and he wants to know how you plan on giving back to the SQL community in 2015.

My short answer is to continue to do everything I did in 2014 – and some more.

In 2014 we restarted our local PASS chapter, SQL Server User Group Norway, and in 2015 I will continue to be a board member and help organize meetings. It has been great to see our chapter grow this year. We have more members, but more importantly, we are slowly becoming a community. Members have volunteered to help out with events, they want to start speaking, and it’s great to see former coworkers catch up with each other at meetings.

We also organized the first SQLSaturday in Norway in 2014, and we have already started planning our next SQLSaturday. (We’re aiming for August 29th, so save the date!) It was a lot of hard work organizing the event this year, but it was such an amazing learning experience that I can’t wait to start working on the next event. I’m so happy that we can give the Norwegian SQL community a day of high-quality free training!

Volunteering is fun and I’ve become slightly addicted to it. I’m planning to be a helper at SQLBits XIV and I have also told the SQLRally Nordic organizers that I’m happy to volunteer if needed. The same goes for all the other PASS events. I hope I can help out again at PASS Summit 2015 and 24 Hours of PASS, and I also want to join the Program Committee and learn from that.

Next year I want to challenge myself to speak and blog more. I love to do both, but they terrify me because they push me out of my comfort zone. There will always be someone who knows more than me, who has more experience than me, who has presented something before me, but I don’t want that to stop me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if others hadn’t shared their knowledge, and hopefully I will be able to help someone by sharing my knowledge. Also, I can’t think of a better way to learn something than to figure out how to teach it to others, so I’m really just being selfish.

And lastly, I will be hosting a T-SQL Tuesday next year! I thought it was fun to share the news in a T-SQL Tuesday post about giving back to the SQL community :)

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