PASS Summit Advice For First Timers

As I scrolled through the twitter feeds I ran across one from Tom LaRock (b|t) on PASS Summit being three weeks away:


Now, what caught my eye was the fact that he mentions the word “advice” to first timers. It wasn’t that long ago when I attended my first PASS Summit. In fact it was the first year at my new shop and I knew nothing about the PASS Summit. The year was 2011 and I had made the trek out to Seattle with a colleague. From the moment I stepped into the convention center I was caught hook, line and sinker.

I got to thinking about what I could share with you, the reader, who may be attending your first PASS Summit and what to expect. Can it be overwhelming? You bet it can be, but guess what? That’s okay.

I’m excited that this year will be my fifth year attending, and it has been one heck of a ride. I’ve learned and have grown so much from it over the years that I would recommend attending to any data professional.

Things To Expect

  • The People – You will find out quickly that there will be numerous opportunities to interact and network with an endless supply of data professionals from all over the world.  I’m not here to tell you how you should step out of your comfort zone; you do what you feel you should do. I will say, for me, getting to know several people over the years has been beneficial to my career growth as a data professional.
  • The Sessions – There will be sessions you want to go to at the same time. Don’t fret; PASS Summit has an offer to purchase all the recordings so you can go back and review a play by play. This is something that I and my shop have taken advantage of over the years and it has proved beneficial.
  • The Community Zone – When you are on your way to the cafeteria you’ll notice a community zone section filled with bean bags and people; stop in and say hello if you get a chance. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with other professionals, leaders, and speakers.
  • The Volunteer – You will see these people all over the convention center. Do me a favor, stop and thank one of them while you are there. Doesn’t take long and a thank you goes a long way. I remember back in 2012 I stopped and thanked a volunteer standing by the entrance to the main room. They proceeded to say they were having a rough day and that it meant a lot for someone to stop. You and I will never know what someone else is going through; take time to make an impact on someone.
  • The Key Note(s) – I suggest you attend these if you can; they are a great way to get a wealth of information from some of the most talented individuals you will ever meet. You will learn direction of products, some new features coming on various platforms, along with some humor thrown in for good measure.
  • The Excitement – You will be excited yet overwhelmed – I know I was. It’s okay to feel this way and don’t beat yourself up if you miss opportunities. Consider it part of your growth on your journey. If you want to ask a question and feel you don’t want to in front of people then fine; go up to the speaker or catch them in the various spots of the community zone. Never met a speaker who does not like to spend some time talking with other data professionals.

The Why?

Back in 2011, my first PASS Summit, I was trying to take it all in. We brought back a lot of information to the shop and implemented some things such as CMS etc. It was a great learning experience, but something struck a chord in me with what is known as the “SQL community”. A few weeks went by and I couldn’t shake the concept so I reached out to Chris Shaw (b|t) who would one day become one of my good friends and mentors in the community. He helped me to get on a path that has led to some outstanding things:

  1. Community Involvement
  2. Blogging
  3. Article writing
  4. Contributor for DBA Jumpstart
  5. SQL Saturday Co-Organizer
  6. Speaker
  7. Co-Chapter Lead – Louisville SQL and Power BI UG
  8. HA/DR Virtual Chapter Marketing

And the list could go on. Why am I telling you all of this? If I can go out and set my mind to accomplish these things then there is no reason why you, the reader, can’t do the same. There will be many opportunities for you, the question that you will have to ask yourself is if you want to pursue them? If you do pursue them great; and if you don’t great. Your career path is just that – YOURS. Only you, yourself, will be able to answer that question and whatever your answer is it’s okay because it is yours.

The Leadership

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I am living proof of what PASS Summit can do for someone. It is time we harvest more leaders and continue to cultivate the very essence of our growth and community. We need to continue to be transparent yet candid all the while staying humble in realizing the journey that we take is sometimes not the journey all data professionals take.


This conference will be your chance to meet data professionals from all over the world. Take advantage of the many opportunities you will be presented with on a daily basis. One thing to keep in mind are the vendor areas, community zone, and Microsoft Engineers who are onsite to assist you with various questions that you may be encountering.


While PASS Summit will be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge, grow as a data professional, and network galore; I do realize that it can be overwhelming especially if it is your first time being to the event.

Take a second and catch your breathe; realize that you are not alone; we all have been in the same shoes you were in at one point and time. Feel free to reach out to me or if you see me walking around, talking at the community zone, or outside the convention center don’t hesitate to walk up and introduce yourself. I’ll be happy to help you out as much as I can.

2 thoughts on “PASS Summit Advice For First Timers

  1. Chris Wood

    If you are intending to see as many sessions as you can, get to know the layout of the Convention Center and have good walking shows because you may travel many miles in the 3 days.


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