This article is going out a little later than I’d hoped, but better late than never, and I wanted to get this out while stuff was still fresh in my mind.
After taking some time to recover, I’ve returned home from my first STC Summit! I’ve wanted to attend this event for some time, and I’m very glad I did!
I flew down on a Sunday, checked in, and took some time to decompress from my travels. (It took two flights and stops in two different cities before I arrived in Atlanta.) Even before the two-and-a-half days of sessions began, I connected with several people and even got into some deep discussions related to my upcoming presentation later that week.
I met a lot of people at this event, including STC leaders and other attendees. As it is with any conference event, networking is a huge part of it, and I did my share. My list of LinkedIn connections expanded significantly during the week! I also brought a stack of my business cards, thinking that I would have plenty to hand out. As it turned out, I should’ve brought the entire box. By the end of the conference, I only had two cards left. Personally, I like my business cards, and they’re always a conversation piece whenever I hand them out. I love the reactions I get when I give them to people!
There were a number of things that I took away from the Summit. Among them:
- Jack Molisani, one of the people I met, had an article he had written about beating the ATS. I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely hate ATS. But regardless of how I feel about it, ATS is reality, and job hunters need to deal with it.
- Jack also offered to review my resume. While I thought my resume was pretty good, I also recognize that there is always room for improvement, so I took him up on it. He gave me suggestions that didn’t even occur to me. Among them: list what I do at the very top, right-justify dates on my experience and education, use san-serif fonts to save space and for better readability, don’t list proprietary systems (genericize them instead), and make my accomplishments more actionable (e.g. “saved the company millions of dollars by…[doing this]”).
- Jack also introduced me to Dr. Craig Baehr, the editor of Intercom magazine. We spoke about possibly writing an article in which they feature STC members (like me!). I told him that I was definitely interested, and would be in touch. I hope I can live up to the standards!
- There were a number of sessions that spoke to me. I attended Amanda Patterson’s presentation about creating a taxonomy. I have to admit that information organization is an area when I could use some brushing up, and I found her presentation to be quite informative. I also attended Swapnil Ogale’s session about building an online portfolio. I have to admit that this is an area that had not occurred to me, and it’s definitely something I want to build. I’ve put in for jobs where employers ask me for writing samples, and I would send them a link where I keep a few PDF files. This session taught me that an online portfolio can be just as critical as a resume. I intend to set aside some time to build such a portfolio. The next time I’m asked for writing samples, I’ll be able to send them here.
- I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my own session. My job hunt presentation has been one of my best sellers as of late. I think this is one of my better presentations, and everyone I spoke with afterward said that I gave a good presentation. I’m happy to help people out as much as I can, and hopefully, attendees will have gotten something out of my session.
- As part of the Summit activities, a resume review session was also offered. During my presentation, I encouraged people to sign up for it and get their resumes reviewed (a point that I mention during my presentation).
Of course, Summit wasn’t just about presentations. Conferences are also about people. I’ve attended enough PASS events that I have many friends I look forward to seeing, and STC Summit gave me an opportunity not just to network, but to make new friends as well! I succeeded in doing so; over the course of the first couple of days, although I had only just met most of these people, I felt just as comfortable around them as I do with people whom I’ve known for several years! I had no problem attending social events, spending time, and sharing meals with them!
They did have some evening social events planned, but I wasn’t able to partake because of my own plans. When I told people that I was heading to Atlanta for this event, several of my friends who live in the Atlanta area contacted me about getting together. I had dinner with four different friends over three nights. It was great getting together with friends whom I either haven’t seen in many years or don’t get to see very often, and it just added to my great experiences during my trip!
I decided to take Amtrak home, rather than flying. I enjoy traveling by train, and I wanted to take my time going home. It allowed me a chance to see parts of the country that I never get to see, as well as meeting more people on the train. My journey home, which took almost exactly 24 hours, included a three hour layover at Penn Station, which allowed me a chance to get myself a decent dinner in midtown Manhattan before catching my connecting train home.
I’ve spoken four times at PASS Summit, but this was my first time speaking for an STC event. This was important to me. Although I have been heavily involved with PASS, SQL Saturday, and a number of related events for several years (including co-founding a local user group), STC is much more closely related to what I do professionally, and speaking at STC Summit is something that has been on my bucket list for a little while. That item has now been fulfilled. That doesn’t mean I’ll rest on my Summit laurels; I fully intend to apply to speak at this event again, and I very much look forward to the next time!