SQL University History Week III: The Future == You

First off I apologize wholeheartedly about the lateness of this post. Turns out I have a day job as well (go figure!). Anyhow thus far we’ve talked about the past in the history of SQL Server, we’ve discussed the present state of affairs in PASS and the events currently going on in the state of SQL Server knowledge and development, and now we’re going to discuss the future and that future is you!

Ok that last line came off a bit hokey but seriously folks, you really ARE the future of SQL Server and PASS. This year we’ve seen some great strides with PASS with the re-branding and refocusing of the Virtual Chapters. The Virtual Chapters, as was mentioned in the last article, are chapters that meet online and are focused on several aspects of SQL Server such as Administration, Application Development, Women in Technology, Virtualization, etc. Another thing that we learned through recent PASS elections campaign madness process is just how passionate we can be about our organization. We’ve also seen the passion from members come forth in form of blog posts such as Brent Ozar’s post ‘What Community Means to Me‘.

Getting Involved

But that covers how others feel and contribute, how do you fit in? Well first off get involved! Be it something as small as communicating with others via your social network of choice (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) start connecting with other SQL professionals. I know, for me, the relationships I’ve fostered via Twitter have been invaluable for me. I’ve found that not only it pays off for day to day questions but it also makes it much easier to transition to meeting folks “in meatspace” such as PASS Summit, SQLSaturday or user group events. Which brings me to my next point, local user groups are great resources. You can check the PASS Chapters website to see the list of the official PASS chapters all over the world. For those not familiar with user groups, these are groups that meet on a regular basis (typically about once a month) and they share information and network on particular topics. In our case we have user groups that are SQL Server focused (database administrators, developers, architects, etc.) as well as groups dedicated to SQL Server Business Intelligence. Attending user groups is a fantastic way to arm yourself with knowledge for free (as well as food and swag, hehe) as at these meetings the usual meeting structure includes having someone come in and speak on a particular topic to the group. In addition to the learning you get from these presentations you can get so much more by networking with your fellow SQL peers. This is a fantastic way to solve real-world problems as others in your field share problems and solutions they’re working on or have come across. No matter what your level of SQL expertise be it someone who has never even opened SQL Server before or someone who has been working with the product for 10+ years I highly encourage you to participate in your local user groups.

If there is no chapter in your area you can set one up yourself. Worried you need to be a SQL guru to do so? Let me alleviate your worries and tell you you don’t. One of the best stories I heard this year came from Bonnie Allard ( Twitter | LinkedIn), the chapter leader of the Spacecoast SQL Server User group. Bonnie actually came into SQL Server with no prior experience so in order to learn it she setup her own test systems at home and just kept playing with the product to get herself familiarized with it. After attending a SQLSaturday event, Bonnie decided to setup a SQL User group in her area (they are located in Melbourne, Florida) as the next closest group was Orlando which was over an hour away. Although the group is small Bonnie has shown great dedication to her craft, PASS and the SQL Community as a whole. If you are interested in setting up a group contact your local Regional Mentor to get started. You can find the regional mentors by clicking on your respective region on the Chapters page. If you have any questions you can contact Blythe Morrow (Email), the Communities coordinator for PASS Headquarters, and she’ll connect you to the proper folks.

Volunteer Work

So we’ve talked about PASS as a whole as well as the local level branches of PASS in local user groups but how else can you continue to pitch in? Well PASS is a global organization and they are always in need of good volunteers to pitch in be it something as simple as helping them put together a PowerPoint for a keynote or as much as volunteering at the Summit to help guide attendees around. Volunteers are the lifeline of PASS and so they can always use as many as possible to help out! If you’re interested in volunteering check out the Volunteers page at the PASS website or contact Blythe Morrow¬† for more opportunities.

Just Do It!

Bottom line is you don’t need to be a Super person with 100+ titles to be involved. Best way to get started is to just do it! Many of the SQL experts you see in the community started off just like you. One of the greatest things about being part of the PASS and SQL community is that you get so much more in return the more you put in to it. So get out there and volunteer, speak, blog, tweet, whatever as long as you get involved! Maybe I’ll see you at the Summit next year and you can relay your own story of how you setup a new PASS chapter or how you got involved with PASS, I’d love to hear them all.

Update: Jeremiah Peschka (Blog | Twitter), PASS Board Member and all-around awesome guy, just posted a blog about volunteering with PASS which you should definitely check out.

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