Miscellaneous notes as I think on this.
I’ve been reading through feedback from the students. Reading the raw feedback is interesting and informative. I’ll try to recap some of the things I’ve seen so far:
- Some found it to be interesting and helpful to understand the career journey (in this case mine)
- Some were overwhelmed by our “beginner” session on databases and SQL
- Some were introduced to new titles/areas (didn’t have a sense of what the options were)
- All seemed thrilled to hear from a staffing company about how to find work
- SQLSaturday was interesting, hopeful, and sometimes overwhelming to those that stayed
- Lesser mentions about the networking part, nothing negative, just not as big a deal for them
Reading the feedback I’m reminded that writing is an important IT skill and I bet few realize how much depends on our ability to convey ideas in writing.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, here’s what I think I’ll recommend if we do it again:
- 30 minutes on networking. Not a waste of time to talk about LinkedIn, separating (or not) work/life, and how to attend events/meet people
- I like the hour introduction to a major silo, but we’re going to have to show them enough to interest without losing them. I think it’s important that they see it’s about tools and problems and solutions. That said, maybe an hour is too much. Changing to 30 minutes might encourage brevity/avoid deep dives.
- I’d like to put more people up front to tell their stories. 2-4 people. Next time I’d like to get a BI person up front, maybe a data developer, etc, and give them 20 minutes to say “this is what I do, this is how I got there, this is how you might pursue this specialty”. Diversity would be good in that.
- Continue or expand the session with the staffing firm about the practical problems of getting an IT job
- More resources – 10 blogs to read, career sites, etc. Stuff they can do afterwards. Free tools also – we tend to forget about the cost
- Makes me think we need 30 minutes on virtualization and building a test lab
- 3 hours feels about right, could go slightly longer if needed
- Add something about writing
- Important to have time for Q&A with each speaker, and some open floor time (would a panel be better?)
- I’d like to have everyone who spoke available to students for 30 minutes afterward
What my comments don’t convey is how much of a beginner they are. That’s not bad, it just is. We’ve got to show them the path, with more emphasis on the next step than the tenth step, but still help them see that decisions made now affect what the tenth step will be.
Something else to ponder is diversity. We don’t have much control over who attends, but I wonder if photos of the speakers that show some diversity might not bring a few more? Hard to measure. Even if it doesn’t bring more, I wonder if having a woman or minority as part of the team might tilt someone into staying that is uneasy (even if not for reasons related to gender/race).
There’s no formula yet. It’s going to take iterations and iterations may not be easy. It’s different from an “event” because here it’s about one set of carefully crafted content and not much about logistics. That’s not to say content isn’t important at SQLSaturday – clearly it is – but as with any seminar if the content isn’t right they just don’t attend.