I guess I’ve been doing this a while! I first harassed my manager about the PowerShell Summit back in 2013.
Back then, I would look at the sessions, look at my team’s gaps, projects, and goals, and point out the sessions that could help. Nothing more.
Nowadays? The breakout sessions themselves are awesome, but aren’t even in the top three reasons I give my boss.
So you want to go to the summit
I’m just going to list out some benefits to going to the summit. Depending on where you are in your career, what you already know, etc. some of these may or may not be helpful.
The people you see are hands down the biggest benefit of the summit for most folks.
Who will you meet?
- Folks on the PowerShell team, and some alumni
- Various leaders in the community - Microsoft MVPs, how-are-they-not-MVPs, speakers, and more
- Folks whose work will send them to a PowerShell + DevOps summit, or who fund it themselves
Now… Why does this matter? How can this be used to justify going to the summit? (s/they/folks you meet)
- They might have a great opportunity for you at some point in your career
- You might have an opportunity they’re an awesome fit for at some point
- They might be an expert in some topic you need guidance on at some point
- If they’re involved organizing conferences or user groups, you might get a chance to speak
- They might have some ideas or conversations that give you an idea on how to solve something at work
- They might be working on or know about a project / tool that would be perfect for your org
- Folks can share more in person than in a blog / public. You’ll find folks from Microsoft, Amazon, and many other companies doing awesome and interesting things, who might not otherwise blog or publicize certain things
Meeting new folks doesn’t come natural to everyone. Certainly not me. What can help? How can you get the most out of this?
Get to know folks!
- Join the community. Ideally before the summit. Twitter, Slack (Summit Slack and PowerShell Slack at least), Reddit, PowerShell.org, etc. Ask questions. Help others. Chances are you’ll meet folks from these communities in person, and this is a great way to keep in touch with folks after the summit. You never know when they might have a job opportunity pop up!
- If you can, put your phone away at breakfast, lunch, and breaks. Say hi to new folks or folks you’ve already met
- Go out to dinner and evening events with the folks you meet. Check Slack (
where are folks headed tonight?will surely net you one or more choices!)
- Attending with co-workers? Ditch them. Or at the very least, be sure you’re not shying away from meeting other folks simply because it’s easier to stick with a co-worker
- Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. There are plenty of simple questions to start with!
So where are you from?,
Is this your first summit?,
So what do you do?,
Any fun projects you're working on?, etc.
- Introduce yourself to the speakers, organizers, Microsoft folks, etc. They’re all just people. Don’t be afraid to talk to them!
- Work can wait. You only get this opportunity once a year, don’t eat the most valuable time at the summit working, if you can help it
- Introverted? Drain your batteries. Seriously. You can recharge after the summit. Eat lunch with folks. Walk up to new folks and start a conversation. Go out for food and other fun in the evening
- Keep coming back. It gets easier every year. As you get to know folks in the online communities, and come back to the summit, it becomes increasingly easier to find folks you know. But… do meet new folks!
- Never take the red eye. Thursday night gives you one last chance to catch up with folks. Some folks do a huge pub crawl. Others (me!) prefer a quiet night getting food and drinks with other summiteers
So! On top of people and hallway track that they create, you have actual summit content.
- General sessions (everyone in the same room)
- Breakout sessions (45 minute or 90 minute bits)
- Side sessions that can range from lecture-ish bits, to group discussions, to hackathons
- Lightning demos - 10 minute or less talks that move fast and introduce you to interesting things you could dive into
The schedule won’t be completely filled out before you ask for approval, but there should be enough to help.
There are a few ways you can use this to encourage your boss to send you:
- Line up session topics with projects or goals at work
- Line up speaker expertise with projects or goals at work - you can talk to these folks after all
- If this is like the previous years, you’ll get a preview of what the PowerShell team is working on
- You’ll have the chance to talk with various folks on the PowerShell team
- Even if a good bit of the content is posted online, being there means you can follow up with the speakers
- There’s a high signal-to-noise ratio. This isn’t some sales-y conference with vendors and parties every night. This is a group of your peers
In case it helps, here are a few tips on content…
- Take notes! What did you learn? Who did you meet? What were they working on? What ideas / tools came up? etc.
- The breakout and most general sessions are recorded. Unless you really want the opportunity to see the content and follow up with the speaker, you can catch these after the summit - don’t feel bad skipping them!
- The hallway track and side sessions are not recorded. My most valuable takeaways are from people / side sessions every year. This is the stuff you can’t get from videos posted online after the conference. Don’t miss these!
- Plan ahead! Are there any sessions you can’t miss? Any where you know you’ll want to hit the hallway/side sessions? Reduce the last minute scrambles - at least have an idea of where you’ll go, and be sure to check for updated side session topics
- Look for related events! DevOps Days Seattle is a week ahead. There might be a WinOps-y nano conference the day after. Poke around and ask folks before you book your tickets and hotel!
That’s pretty much it! There’s even more you could add if you start sharing - doing lightning demos, speaking, leading side sessions, organizing, etc. - but the bits above should apply to pretty much everyone interested in the summit.
Oh! Registration opens today. Hope to see you there!