Notes from our 3rd Student to IT Pro Seminar

Concurrent with SQLSaturday Orlando we ran our third student seminar. This is our way of giving back to the college that so kindly gives us free space for the event and of encouraging students to see IT as a great career choice.

  • Attendance was down last year, not good. This year we had a good discussion with the team from the college about driving attendance because we (the SQLSaturday team) have no reach into the student base. Our goal was 50+ attendees for this year. If we didn’t make the goal we would regroup post-event and figure out a better model. We registered 200+ this year, with 80 attending, a nice win. Rescheduling the event probably impacted attendance negatively.
  • We trimmed our agenda to 2.5 hours at the request of the school (we would have made it longer!). That mean we could start later (9 am) and we done in time for some post seminar Q&A and still get the volunteers back over to SQLSaturday for the lunch.
  • We tried to keep this entirely separate from SQLSaturday. Different registration, different building. We then invited them to visit SQLSaturday after lunch.
  • In previous years we invited the students to join us for lunch. Easier logistics, but it adds cost and complexity. This year based on registration we switched to pizza and that worked out really well because as soon as they exited the auditorium they could eat and mingle, giving us a chance to poll them informally on the event.
  • My favorite student comment was that “ it felt safe to ask questions”. Makes me thing “seminar” might be the wrong word. We’re definitely pushing information, but we want their involvement.
  • Schedule was simple. 30 minutes on networking, LinkedIn, user groups, etc. One hour for a five person panel to do Q&A. 30 minutes from a staffing company, then a 30 minute mock interview.
  • Every student I asked enjoyed the format (I spoke with at least 10)
  • Our partner at the college was thrilled with turnout and the content we provided.

We haven’t met to discuss it as a group yet, but it felt like we got our footing this year. We might change up some of the content and streamline some more, but we see a formula we can repeat and tweak. The marketing and logistics went a lot better – we can just about repeat that as is for next year.

I’m glad it was a win. It takes time/effort away the main event and we’re willing to do that as long as the value matches the effort. It’s also nice to do something that really delivers perceived value. Just takes some time to figure out how to do it!