My membership with #SWE #WELocal2023 #WELocalHartford @SWETalk

In my past eight years of being a presentation speaker, I’ve discovered that being a speaker has its fringe benefits*, including networking, learning opportunities, and complimentary admittance to conferences such as PASS Summit and STC Summit. I do these conference presentations on my own time and my own dime — I have rarely received any reimbursement for speaking at these conferences — so this latter benefit can be a big deal, as conference fees can be very expensive, and I would not be able to attend these events if I wasn’t speaking at them.

(*I even get swag every now and then! ūüôā )

I’ve spoken twice at WE Local conferences, which, unfortunately, are not comped for speakers. They do, however, provide a speaker’s discount that does bring the fee down to a more-than-reasonable amount, allowing me to attend these events. I try to support initiatives such as SWE and WIT whenever I can, mostly by speaking at and attending events.

Last month, I received another benefit through my involvement with SWE. I received an email thanking me for purchasing a membership to SWE. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “I didn’t authorize a purchase of a SWE membership. What gives?”

It turned out that since I presented for a SWE Local conference, I received a comp membership to SWE! So for the next year, I am a SWE member!

Women are underrepresented in STEM fields, so I am happy to support organizations, such as SWE and WIT, that promote women’s involvement. My SWE membership is a nice benefit, and I hope I can use it to continue supporting women — and technologists in general — in technical fields.

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Greetings from #WELocalHartford #WELocal @SWETalk #SWELocal #WELocalHartford2023

I am writing this from a workstation area in the Connecticut Convention Center, location for the WE Local Hartford conference.

I arrived in Hartford around 6:30 pm last night, managing to arrive before a snowstorm hit several states in the Northeast (I wanted to make sure I left early as I could for exactly this reason). The conference takes places over two days, although I arrived too late to take part in any Friday activities. Friday night was uneventful; I checked into my hotel, got myself dinner, and retired to my room for the night.

Today (Saturday), for me, is pretty much where all the action has happened. After checking out of the hotel, I went to the convention center, registered, found my room, and went to the main ballroom to get myself breakfast, as well as the opening keynote. I’ll admit that I went primarily for the free breakfast! The keynote was given by Dr. Jenny Gusba, a senior director at Pepsico. She mentioned a couple of things that resonated with me. She talked about taking advantage of your strengths and addressing your weaknesses (or, as she called them, “opportunities”), and also mentioned how her challenge in her work was “how to take science and be able to get the masses to relate to it.” The former addresses things that are in one of my presentations, which the latter is a good description of what I do for a living.

My two presentations went well. Both were well-attended (there were at least twenty people in each), and I had a very receptive audience. A lot of questions and comments (which I encourage) were shared at both sessions. I assume that they solicit session evaluations for these presentations, but so far, the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive!

Pepsico, one of the sponsors for this event, sponsored a “networking lounge,” where I hung out in-between my two sessions. I did strike up a conversation with a young lady from Pepsico who said to me something to the effect of “thank you for supporting (women in engineering)!” That was a nice little acknowledgement of my participation at an event that is dominated by women.

Lunch was also an interesting event as well. They billed it as a “power networking” lunch. The rule was that you were not allowed to sit at a table where you knew more than half of the people. (To facilitate this, each ID badge had a sticker on the back that designated your “assigned” table.) I sat at a table along with four young ladies, all (as far as I knew) of whom were students. One was a student at NJIT, and two (who knew each other) were from Ohio State. (I didn’t get much info from the fourth, and she didn’t stay very long.) I found out that they were chemical engineering students. (As it turned out, I happen to know chemical engineers from each of their geographic regions. Hey, more reason to network!) We had a wonderful conversation; I gave them my business card and told them to drop me a line if I could be of assistance.

I thought the networking lunch was a great idea! In my networking presentation (which, unfortunately, I didn’t do today), my attendees get an opportunity to network. When we do so, I tell them that I have one rule: you are not allowed to engage someone you know. You can’t; that defeats the entire purposes of developing networking contacts. Networking is such a huge deal in career development these days; I do have an entire presentation dedicated to it, after all, and I’ve been attending more events where they put an emphasis on networking (including this past PASS Summit). I hope more events schedule activities that facilitate and encourage networking!

I should also mention that this is the second time I have spoken at a WE Local conference (the first was in Buffalo last year), and for me, it’s a bit of an interesting experience. I’ve been speaking at various events (mostly SQL Saturdays) since 2015, but Buffalo last year was the first time that I spoke at an event where the attendees were predominantly female. STEM professions tend to be predominantly male, so there have been efforts by groups such as SWE and WIT to get more girls and women interested in pursuing STEM careers. That comment I got today in the networking lounge meant a lot to me, and I like to think I’m doing my part to contribute.

As I write this, there’s still a couple of hours left in this event. I’m going to see how the rest of the day winds up, maybe do something for dinner, then make the two-hour drive back home. Looks like the weather has cleared, the roads are clear, and I think it should be smooth sailing back home.

Speaking this Saturday at #WELocalHartford #WELocal @SWETalk #SWELocal #WELocalHartford2023

This Saturday, March 4, I will be speaking in Hartford, CT, at the WE Local conference, presented by the Society of Women Engineers! This will be my second time speaking at this event; last year, I spoke at their conference in Buffalo.

I will be doing two presentations.

At 9:30 am in room 24, I will be doing my presentation about surviving an unemployment situation, titled: “I lost my job! Now what?!?” I will discuss topics such as how to deal with your emotions, how to improve your job prospects, and how to pass the time while you’re out of work.

At 11:45 am, also in room 24, I will do my technical writing presentation titled: “Tech Writing for Techies: A Primer.” Technical writing is likely the most misunderstood and ignored technical functions. This presentation is intended to clear up many of the misconceptions behind technical writing, explain why it’s important for your organization, and ways to improve the process.

To view the agenda for this event, click here! Hope to see you in Hartford on Saturday!

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 12/27/2022) #SQLSaturday #WELocal #SWELocal #STCSummit

With only four days left in 2022, I don’t have any more speaking engagements in 2022. I do, however, have a couple lined up for 2023! Besides, it’s been a while since I posted one of these updates…

I am confirmed to speak at the following events.

  • March 3-4, 2023, Hartford, CT: WE Local Conference: I will be speaking at a conference hosted by the Society of Women Engineers in early March. This will be my second time speaking at this conference; I also spoke at this same conference in Buffalo last year. For this conference, I will be giving not one but two presentations: “Tech Writing for Techies,” an introduction to technical writing to technical people who don’t get tech writing, and “I lost my job! Now what?!?,” my presentation about the job hunt and surviving an unemployment situation.

    My job hunt presentation seems to be pretty popular, because I will be giving this same presentation at…
  • May 16, 2023, Atlanta, GA: STC Summit: This is a large national conference that takes place May 14-17. I am scheduled to speak on the 16th! I am especially excited about this conference, because I have been involved with STC for a little while, I’ve been wanting to get more involved with them, and speaking at STC Summit has been on my bucket list. I can now check that off my list! I’m also excited because Atlanta is a brand-new city for me. I have never been to Atlanta (other than changing planes at the airport, which doesn’t count)!

There are also a couple of SQL Saturdays to which I intend to submit. As of right now, neither of them is open yet for submissions, but I plan to submit to them once they’re open.

  • May 6, 2023, New York, NY: SQL Saturday #1048, NYC: I pretty much attend NYC SQL Saturday every year (in fact, NYC was the first SQL Saturday I ever attended, way back in 2010), so I will likely be there, regardless of whether or not any of my presentations are selected.
  • October 14, 2023, Burlington, MA: SQL Saturday Boston: The site for this event isn’t up yet; right now, it’s only a “save-the-date” on the SQL Saturday website. Nevertheless, I’ve attended Boston SQL Saturday a number of times, and I’ve become close with the folks out in Boston, so I will definitely submit when this one opens. That said, October is a long way away, so I’m hoping I don’t have any conflicts with that date!

So that’s what I have on my presentation calendar for next year. Hopefully, I’ll see you at an event near you!

Happy holidays, winding down 2022, and what’s in store next

As I write this, it’s the day after Christmas, 2022. Hopefully, those of you who are reading this had a wonderful holiday season. I hope you had a great Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or whatever your holiday celebration of choice is! For me, personally, Santa didn’t leave me much, but honestly, the older I get, the less important tangible Christmas gifts get. I got to spend quality time with my wife and my (now-13-year-old — !!!) niece, and that was the best Christmas present I could’ve asked for.

Now that 2022 is almost over, a lot of people spend time reflecting upon the past year, and trying to figure out what the new year will bring. I am no different, and I have to say that it has been a very eventful 2022.

I won’t get too much into it, as I try to avoid writing about things that are too personal in my very public ‘blog, but I will mention that 2022 was a very trying year. I had to deal with family issues this past August, which included one parent’s death and the other parent facing twilight years of life. (As I write this, the latter is still an issue and is ongoing.) Around the same time, we also dealt with the deaths of one of our beloved pets and a couple of friends of mine from college. To say that this made 2022 a very trying year is probably an understatement. All I could think about is a quote from the fourth Indiana Jones movie: “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.” Professionally, I lost a job, got another one, and nearly lost the second one (disclosure: I managed to pull myself out, and am still employed there as I write this). I will not get into any details about the second one, except to say that I discovered something very personal about myself, and although it wasn’t directly related to the other personal issues that I just wrote about, those issues did nothing to help my situation.

What I will mention is that my personal issue was the fodder behind the article I wrote about taking care of yourself.

But enough about the crap that I had to deal with in 2022. Let’s talk about the good things that happened.

I did experience a lot of good things this year. Let’s start with my speaking schedule. Although things are still picking up after the pandemic, I did make it to speak at four in-person events this year, including a new one that had nothing to do with PASS, and my fourth consecutive time speaking at PASS Data Community Summit (or its equivalent).

I still shake my head that I’ve spoken at four straight PASS Summits. I don’t consider myself a SQL expert; as I often say, although I do have SQL experience, my knowledge of SQL falls under the category of “knows enough to be dangerous.” But I’ve been picked to speak there four times, so I must be doing something right!

I think the sentiment of speaking at events like these was best summed up by this tweet from a first-time speaker during PASS Summit.

Not all my 2022 successes were professional. I got to play several gigs with my rock band. I spent some time accompanying a local musical. My alma mater’s football team went 7-5 and is heading to a bowl game. And I got to attend countless events that allowed me to connect (or, in some cases, reconnect) with friends and family. While I did deal with a lot of issues in 2022, I’m happy to say that I’m definitely on the upswing.

That brings me to what’s next moving forward. I’ve received word that I’ve been invited to speak at two more events: another WE Local conference, and at STC Summit! I’m especially excited about the latter, because I’ve been a member of STC for a little while, and speaking at STC Summit has been a bucket list item for me. I also saw save-the-date entries for SQL Saturday as well (including one in NYC that my friend, Thomas Grohser told me about when I was in Seattle last month), so there will likely be more opportunities for me to speak as well. There are also numerous opportunities that are crossing my path. I won’t write about them all now, partially because none of them are in stone, but mostly because there are a lot of them, and I don’t remember them all! So I have a lot to look forward to in 2023 and beyond.

So, that pretty much sums up my reflections. I hope to be doing more as my issues are farther in my rearview mirror, and my upswing continues! Stay tuned for my exploits in 2023, and I hope all of you are on a similar track!

Speaking at #WELocal, Hartford, CT, March 3-4 @SWETalk #SWELocal

Today, I received word that I had not one, but two presentations accepted for the WE Local conference in Hartford, CT in March! This will be my second time speaking for this conference; I spoke at the WE Local Conference in Buffalo last year.

I would’ve been happy if just one submission was accepted, but for this conference, they selected two!

I’ll be doing my presentation about the job hunt titled: “I lost my job! Now what?!?” about surviving an unemployment situation. This is the same presentation that I’ll be doing at STC Summit in Atlanta in May.

I’ll also be doing my session about technical writing, titled: “Tech Writing for Techies: A Primer.” This presentation is intended to raise awareness of technical writing — which I’ve often referred to as “the Rodney Dangerfield of technical professions” — to a technical audience.

This should be a fun conference! It’s the second time I’ve presented for the Society of Women Engineers. It’s an opportunity to bring my sessions to new audiences, new professions (engineers, rather than data people), and a new town (although I’m no stranger to Hartford, CT, this is my first time speaking there). I’m very much looking forward to this event!

See you next March in Connecticut!

I’m speaking next weekend — in person! #WELocal

Time to get back on the road for the speaker’s circuit again!

I am speaking a week from tomorrow (April 9)! I will be in Buffalo, NY for the WE Local Buffalo conference, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers!

I will be doing my original presentation that kicked off my public speaking endeavor: “Whacha just say? Talking technology to non technical people“! I’m scheduled to speak at 2:15 pm next Saturday (click here for a PDF of the conference schedule).

This will be my first in-person event since SQL Saturday Rochester in 2020, right before the pandemic started! I’m very much looking forward to this trip, as I enjoy traveling! I’ve spoken at a number of virtual events since I went to Rochester, but they’re just not the same thing. I’m looking forward to being able to shake people’s hands (or give fist/elbow bumps, if they’re still anxious about spreading germs), handing out business cards, and taking in the local culture. I’m always game for a plate of Buffalo wings! (My wife and I were in Buffalo last summer, and we made it to the Anchor Bar. I’m hoping to sample some Duff’s this time around!)

Hope to meet you in Buffalo next weekend!

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 1/20/2022) #ProfessionalDevelopment @SWEtalk #WELocal #Networking #SQLFamily

It’s been a while since I posted a speaking schedule update, and I figured I was overdue.

Right now, I have only one confirmed speaking engagement: the WE Local Conference in Buffalo, NY on April 8-9. Last I checked, the conference schedule still hasn’t been released, so I don’t know if I’m speaking on April 8 or April 9 (all I know is that I’m speaking!). I’m still waiting for the schedule to come out before I make my travel plans!

This will be my first in-person speaking engagement since Rochester SQL Saturday back in February, 2020, just before the start of the COVID pandemic; every presentation I’ve given since then has been virtual. It’ll feel good to get back on the road again!

Hope to see you in Buffalo in April!

#WELocal Conference, Buffalo, NY — I’m speaking!

I received word that one of my submissions has been accepted for the WE Local Conference in Buffalo, NY on April 8-9! The WE Local Conference is sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers. This is my second conference that is not related to PASS where I’ll be speaking, and this will be my first in-person event since SQL Saturday in Rochester, just before the pandemic hit.

I will be doing my presentation about communicating to non-technical people (my original talk)!

So meet me in Buffalo next April for what looks to be another great conference! And perhaps you’ll be able to catch my presentation, along with a plate of Buffalo wings!

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 10/26/2021) #ProfessionalDevelopment #PASSDataCommunitySummit #PASSSummit @SWEtalk #WELocal #Networking #SQLFamily

Since my last speaker’s update, two of my conferences are in the books, one is upcoming in just a couple of weeks (!!!), and a couple of potential new conferences may be upcoming for me.

First, I’ll talk about the two conferences I did.

  • Data Saturday #13, Minnesota: I spoke for this group last year, and it went very well! As virtual conferences go, the Minnesota SQL group does a great job of putting their event together! This year’s conference was no different! A number of tools that they had used last year were also in effect this year (I was happy to see that the Discord account I created primarily for this event still worked!), and it made for a great online conference! Only my personal schedule (I had football tickets for the night before) really kept me from taking full advantage of all this event had to offer. That said, as virtual conferences go, I recommend this one highly!
  • Rocket Mortgage TechCon 2021: When I tried to advertise this event, I found that I had trouble finding a link to allow people to register for it. As it turned out, it was for a good reason: it was a private internal event for Rocket Mortgage employees. Oops! In any case, I delivered my presentation and discovered a very receptive audience! I got a lot of good questions and plenty of interaction (which was somewhat difficult, because people couldn’t message me directly; the only way I was able to read people’s comments was to turn off my slide sharing). And as a result of my presentation, I now have several LinkedIn connections to Rocket Mortgage employees.

With that, here are the upcoming conferences where I’m speaking or have applied.

Confirmed

In two weeks, I will be speaking at PASS Data Community Summit! This is the third consecutive year that I am speaking at PASS Summit or its equivalent! Just being selected to speak at one is an honor, but being selected to speak at three straight is nothing short of amazing!

This year’s Summit is virtual and free to attend (although there is a fee to attend pre-con sessions). All you need to do is to go to the PASS Data Community Summit website and register!

I will be doing my session on joblessness and unemployment titled: “I lost my job! Now what?!?” I will share advice on how to survive a jobless situation, including (but not limited to) dealing with the stress and emotions of unemployment, how to shore up your job search and interview skills, and things you can do to pass the time.

I am scheduled to speak on Thursday, November 11, at 9:30 am Eastern time. Hope to see you then!

Submitted, but not confirmed

I’ve submitted presentations to two events, each of which would be a new one for me if I’m accepted to speak! Please note that I have only submitted to them, but I don’t yet know whether I’m speaking at them or not.

These events are NOT virtual; they are in-person! If I am accepted to any of these events, they would be my first live in-person events since SQL Saturday in Rochester last year!

In addition to these two events, there’s also my local user group:

  • CASSUG user group, Albany, NY: This is my local SQL user group. It’s been a while since I spoke for my hometown user group, and I think I’m due. I’m hoping to get to speak at one of our meetings!

So as of today, this is my upcoming presentation schedule. Hope to see you at an event sometime soon!