This afternoon I’m presenting at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Professional Development virtual chapter. My topic today is about how to ensure that you are doing the right things now to support job and project search efforts when you need them. Join me at 1PM EDT
A workshop on issues and ideas that today’s data professionals can do to build their careers and networking skills with other data management professionals.
Workshop topics will include:
• Demonstrating your expertise
• Building a portfolio of your success stories
• Getting others to sell your skills and business value
• Building & extending your data management skill set
• 10 Steps to highlighting you and your work
Bring your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
As a virtual presentation, I’ll be relying heavily on Q&A from the audience, as well as input from Twitter to ensure that this is the most interactive it can be. Please join us as we talk about how we as a profession can best ensure that we are all working and our projects have the right resources to be successful.
The hashtag to use during this talk is #PASSProfDev
A recording of the presentation should be available on 24 Sept 2011 at http://prof-dev.sqlpass.org/ .
We had great interaction for a Live Meeting. Great job, everyone.
Information Management Magazine published a list of 17 females on Twitter to follow, drawn primarily from the data and information sector…and I’m one of them. A great group to be part of. Note that 3 of us are part of the DAMA International Board.
I was recently contacted by a friend who is taking a database design course for some help in understanding an assignment. His first task was to create a conceptual data model and then prepare entity instance diagrams for that data model. He was wondering what an entity instance diagram was. So was I, as I had not heard that term before. So I fired off a search and came up with only one hit:
I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve every unintentionally found only one returned result for a search term before. Unfortunately that one webpage has broken images, so I couldn’t see what one looked like. So I told my friend:
I was thinking of examples such as the ones in Simsion & Witt’s Data Modeling Essentials [aff link]:
I did some more looking around and using Bing, found one more result which pointed to a PowerPoint slide deck by Ellis Cohen from his course on Theory, Practice & Methodology of Relational Database Design and Programming. In this deck I found an example of what he calls an entity instance diagram, which pretty much is what I thought it was. I’ve been creating an using these sorts of things to explain how a data model should be used but I never had a name for them. I called them sample data, data prototypes, data validation , worked examples, or just examples. Now we have a name and a TLA!
In Cohen’s slide, he’s using an Entity Instance Diagram (EID) to to demonstrate weak entities:
I usually use Excel to prepare these, as I can reuse the data for each one. I even have an ER/Studio macro to generate the tabs in a spreadsheet (one for each entity/table selected in a submodel). This makes preparing the sample data go much faster.
So it looks like we have an answer now for what the heck is an entity instance diagram….and I have a name for a technique that I use all the time. If you have other examples of this term, I’d love to see them.
For those of you who read our blog and don’t frequent SQL Server community events, you might find this post a bit surprising. I found similar posts odd when I first came across them, but now I understand the role they play in the SQL Speaker community.
Speakers at SQLPASS and related events often post the evaluation results they received, good or bad, along with the presenter’s analysis of how the presentation went and how the evaluations cause them to enhance their future presentations. I’ve learned a lot from reading how other speakers have responded to their evaluation data, so I’m going to start sharing mine.
SQLRally was held just a few weeks ago in Orlando, which fit perfectly into my schedule of waiting around for Endeavour to lift off. I had already been scheduled to speak, so I didn’t have to travel far from Cocoa Beach to Orlando to attend. My presentation was a Deep Dive, meaning I had a 90 minute time slot to present. I had submitted a couple of proposals, but the one that was voted on by the SQL community was my professional development topic, Career Success in the Data Profession During Turbulent Times. I forgot to count how many people attended, but I’m pretty sure there were more than 40 people, probably more. Nineteen people completed and turned in evaluations for the presentation, which I think is about the expected number.
The data (scale of 1-5, with 5 being best):
- Overall Average: 4.754
- Lowest Evaluation: 3.5, but evaluator gave no comments, so I’m not sure why he or she felt that way or what I could do to make the attendee happier.
- Highest Evaluation: 5.0 (12 people gave this score)
The questions asked on the evaluation and my average for each:
- How would you rate the Speaker’s ability to convey information and control the presentation? 4.737
- How would you rate the Speaker’s knowledge of the subject? 4.895
- How would you rate the accuracy of the session title and description to the actual session? 4.632
- How would you rate the speaker’s use of the allocated time to cover the topic/session? 4.684
- How would you rate your ability to follow along with the speaker’s examples/demonstrations? 4.842
- Please rate the practicality of the information presented. 4.737
I’m happy with those results. The lowest one, about the session title, is one that I struggle with. For technical presentations, I find titles and abstracts can be really clear. For professional development, I think that it’s harder to get a clear title that covers all the nuances of "how to do something better, regardless of what its". So I work hard on the abstract. I have a slide with the same title of each of the points in the abstract to make sure there’s a good link to help people understand what we will be talking about. A 4.6 is still good, but I’ll work on making that better.
Time allocation is tough. I make ending on time a very high priority. It was funny that the speaker before me went more than 20 minutes over in his session. I ended on time. We covered all the material and had a huge amount of audience discussion, which is how I rate the success of my sessions. That’s just my style. I’m not much of a lecturer.
Since this presentation focused somewhat on social media and getting others to market for you, I was glad that I didn’t have people feeling that was too much non-SQL content. It’s always a risk when giving professional development topics at technical conferences.
The comments evaluators gave were very encouraging, too.
Great Structured vs. unstructured presentation. Most audience involvement in a session I’ve seen here.
Like I said, that’s my style of presentation. So it works well people audience members enjoy that. I know some people don’t. I have had evaluations that complained about the time wasted with audience people asking questions or offering different opinions. Sure, sometimes presentations get derailed by those things, but I allocate a significant portion of my presentation time for these discussions. I’ve always wondered how to set people’s expectations about that.
Excellent slides. Focus on topical ideas, not text in bullets. Kept focus on stories. Great presentation.
Also good to hear. I’ve had people complain in the past that they don’t like my Zen-like simple slides; they want lots of text to use as a reference later. I’ve considered adding notes to my slides in PowerPoint to meet those people’s needs.
She explained everything well.
I’m glad. I was glad I had 90 minutes so that I could spend extra time explaining the social networks and what I meant by "networking".
Got off topic for a while at the beginning.
I’m not sure which part that was. There were some discussions that went on for a while I and I had to move on to other topics. But I was happy to see such an engaged audience. I will work harder at focus.
Discussed a lot of how to hire instead of how to position yourself for advancing your career.
That is excellent feedback. I did talk a lot about hiring people, as did some audience members. I can’t tell many stories about advancing through employment opportunities, though, because I’m in the services industries and have been my own boss for more than 15 years. My intent on telling interviewer stories was to show how hard it is to hire someone if they can’t explain well what they know and what they do. Next time I’ll work harder at making that distinction.
Knowledge is power. Know your profession’s mandate.
I like this statement, but it was giving as a comment under "what could the speaker do to improve future presentations" and I don’t know what it means. If you gave this comment and want to explain it a bit more, I’d love to hear more.
Not enough of this is being discussed in "DBA-dom"
I think it is great that SQLPASS and SQLRally have professional development tracks, so some of it is being talked about at these events. Many user group and SQL Saturday organizers are worried about putting professional development topics on their schedules, since some members don’t like non-technical presentations. If you do, you should talk to your local organizers to tell them you think it is important.
As with other presenters, Karen seems to be the leader in data architecting and IT resource field. Kudos.
Great natural speaker.
Could discuss all day, very thought provoking.
There’s a tremendous demand and a need or this. There’s a business here. Most valuable presentation of SQLRally.
Those makes me smile. It’s always nice to get this sort of feedback. Share some love if you enjoyed the presentation you spent time at.
So thank you for all of you who took the time to share your thoughts about the presentation. Speakers crave this sort of feedback. As other speakers have blogged, speakers have traveled away from the families, taken days to prepare for their presentations, rehearsed them, fretted about them, planned for them, and generally spent a great deal of time trying to make that 60-90 minutes the best session of your day. Do them a favour by spending 5 minutes filling out the evaluations. And please do the hard part: If you didn’t rate them a 5, tell them why. We really do want to know.
I haven’t blogged yet about my NASA Tweetup experiences, for the most part because I’m worried about coming across as too emotional about the entire experience. As I previously posted, I’m attending a special NASA program that brings 150 Twitter users from around the world to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of the Shuttle Endeavour on her last mission, STS-134. I started this post hoping to keep it as a short overview. It’s not.
Pre-Tweetup – Level Green
The launch was originally scheduled for mid-April, then that was moved to 29 April due to a traffic jam in space. No worries. I arrived here in Florida on 26 April. Wednesday I picked up my credentials and then went over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to add to my space brain, the term I’ve been using for being inundated with science about space exploration. I also met up with my house mates of Venus House for the first time.
Thursday – Level Orange
Thursday we headed over to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to get settled in the Tweetup Tent (affectionately referred to as the twent). I new we were going to be close to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building, but I had no idea we’d be parking right next to it. That was just awe-inspiring. There we met our fellow Tweetup attendees. We started with the obligatory “everybody introduce yourselves, tell us where you are from and something interesting about you”. Crap. Interesting? Okay, I’ll say that I’m a…well, let’s wait to see what everyone else says. I was sitting on the far end, near the air conditioners. They started on the other side. As people stood up to say who they were I sat there stunned by the number of accomplishments and backgrounds. Quick…what the hell can I say that is interesting? Somehow “I like data” just didn’t seem to be that interesting with this group. Attendees came from all walks of life: 3 -time Jeopardy champion, Internet company founders, Twitter staff, rocket scientists, TV and film stars, musicians, pilots, journalists…well, you can read what most said about themselves at http://nasatweet.com/wiki/STS134_Fun_facts …but I think that most people were a bit too humble about their interesting things. So I finally settled on “I’m a former national spokesperson for Women in IT. I help encourage girls to take more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)” That seemed to go over well, with this crowd being STEM friendly. I mentioned that I had brought the technical Barbies with me to enjoy the launch, too. I was already starting to have the overwhelming feeling that this Tweetup was going to be something like I’ve never experienced before. Emotions were at Alert Level Orange by that point.
We did a tour of the KSC property, including the inside of the VAB. There we got to see Atlantis being prepped for her last voyage soon after Endeavour’s trip. Did I tell you we got to go inside? That’s insane. There aren’t normal tours for going inside the VAB. I guess to other people it’s just where they work. For me it was just amazing. I need to find another word. Someone find me a thesaurus.
Thursday was a full program of speakers from NASA, including astronauts and staff. More on that later. We were supposed to go out near the pad to watch the retraction, but freaky storm weather cancelled that. My first disappointment. Emotions still at Level Orange, but barely.
Friday – Level Red
On Friday we headed back over to KSC ready to experience an opportunity of a lifetime — to see the launch from just over 3 miles away. To put this in perspective, if you were 400 yards from the launch the heat and flame would kill you. If you were 800 yards from the launch, the sound would kill you. So 3 miles is close. It’s as close as non-workers can get. Emotion Levels were Reddish Orange, sort of like a tequila sunrise. I set up my tripod to reserve a space. Right next to a tripod from an international camera crew. My tripod looked sad next to theirs, but it was setup and ready to go. More exciting program inside the twent happened, and I’ll post pictures of that in a later post.
Every presenter over the two days spoke of the emotion and the feeling of awe of what they did for a living. It was all about STEM, but overall the most blow-me-away thoughts were about humanity, peace, the meaning of life, and…emotions. As each person spoke, I could see the passion they had about the work they did; they were changing the world and they loved every minute of it.
Sadly, as Rob blogged, the launch was scrubbed about noon on Friday due to a mechanical failure. We were terribly disappointed, but all of us understood that safety first is the key phrase. We watched the Astronaut Van drive slowly past, it made an unexpected turn into the VAB drive. We were hoping that it was just making a special drive by of the special observation area, but it wasn’t to be. I was interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered about this disappointment. I found out that interview made it to the air because people all over the US started tweeting that they heard me on their drives home from work. How wonderful is that?
I have to say that seeing that Astro Van take a turn when it wasn’t supposed to was heartbreaking. It wasn’t a crushing blow because I was by then riding a full RED ALERT emotionally already. I had experienced so many amazing things up to then it didn’t matter. The launch would happen when Endeavour was ready for it to happen.
Later in the afternoon President Obama arrived, even though the launch had been scrubbed, to meet the astronauts and their families. We were able to wave to him as he waved back at us, a bunch of Twitter Space-crazed photographers.
And then there was more: NASA Tweetup attendee Chris Cardinal proposed to attendee Nina Tallman, right in front of the Countdown Clock. As a fellow geek, that was so amazing to see. My emotions were now just going crazy. I took a bazillion pictures.
Most of us stayed in the twent, listening to ad hoc program presentations, chatting about everything that had been happening so far, and talking about making extended travel arrangements. We looked forward to a launch in the next 48 hours. All was fine.
Saturday – SQLSaturday
When the scrub was announced, Kendal van Dyke (twitter and another former NASATweetup attendee) reminded me there was a SQLSaturday happening in Jacksonville. I caught a ride with him and two other great SQL community members Bradley Ball (twitter) and Dan Taylor( twitter). So I got to spend time with the rocking SQL Community at the last minute. What a great opportunity. For the ride back we were all really tired and we had great gut-busting laughs, the kind that are hilarious if you are tired, entirely stoked from being with a great community and punchy from getting only a couple of hours of sleep. Thanks, guys, for taking care of me and the Technical Barbies. Oh, and for letting me be part of your SQLRoadtrip.
Now – Back to Tequila Red Orange
I have many photos and blog posts to share and am struggling with how to not overly spam this blog with them. I have lots of potential blog posts that talk about data, project management, decisions, and costs, benefits and risks. But my main concern is that I’m still GUSHING with emotions and I don’t think my posts will come across as anything but completely insane. I’ve been struggling with this post, trying not to fill it with #FTW #AWESOMESAUCE #ZOMG and 10,000 exclamation points. Did I tell you have pictures?
I so wish I could have taken every single girl that I talk to about taking more science, technology, math and engineering along with me to see an hear just how freaking rewarding STEM careers are. I’d show them how these careers change the world and make lives better. I’d show them the fabulous role models, how much fun they have, and how being in a community of insanely smart people can make every minute count.
As I am putting the finishing touches on this, NASA just announced that the current date (more about that coming, too) will be pushed back again. I was doing okay travel-wise because I was already planning on being in Orlando for SQLRally on this Saturday. Staying over a few extra days was cheaper and easier, so that’s what I’m doing. As of right now, it will be later and not 10 May as last announced. You know what? I’m still at EMOTION LEVEL RED…ish. All things considered.
Image by nasa hq photo via Flickr
A Right Turn Instead Of A Left Turn
Some time ago, Karen and I put our names in to attend the #NASATweetup scheduled for the last launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134). Karen was chosen and went down last week and had a fabulous experience, but with less than 3 hours to go until the launch it got scrubbed. Throughout that morning they had already worked on a problem with a regulator and had made up for lost time caused by a storm the previous day and it all looked good for a launch. I was watching the tweets and through NASA TV saw the astronauts in the Astro Van heading to the launch pad when they turned right to go back instead of left and we found out the launch was scrubbed. As of right now, a new launch date has not been set as they work on the problem and determine when the next eligible target launch date can be.
But We’re Going To Disappoint All These People
The launch delay got me thinking about how decisions like that get made especially so close to the deadline and how we could apply this thinking to our own projects. Think about it, the President was on his way, there were numerous dignitaries, 150 #NASATweetup attendees, and an estimated 700,000 others there to watch this historic launch of the last shuttle flight of Endeavour. Can you imagine having to be the one that has to say “not today”? Have you ever been on a project when the executives are there saying “Let’s just go ahead and implement it and we’ll fix it later”?
Your Decision Making Process Is Key And Must Be In Writing
While most of us don’t deal with projects with the same risk factors as NASA does we still have to deal with problems and risk, but how we deal with it is key. As Karen detailed in her post #NASATweetup – It’s a GO! Readiness Reviews and Your Projects this all works when you have everything documented beforehand and you have a formal process for this. In essence, you have algorithms and decision trees that you follow that make sure that you make the right choice and don’t let human emotion and behaviour get in the way. Don’t get me wrong, this was not an immediate decision and I’m sure it was not an easy decision. But if you have all of your options and decision trees, policies and procedures mapped out ahead of time then the decision is based on those written policies and not subject to human emotion.
In the announcement of the delay Shuttle Launch Director, Mike Leinbach, stated:
Today, the orbiter is not ready to fly…we will not fly before we’re ready.
This was not a decision taken lightly, but after thoroughly evaluating the problem and determining if it could be fixed prior to launch or if it was more serious. But with such a short time to launch they had to make a firm decision, so they did. In my mind, this takes a lot of integrity and strength to be able to stand up and say that they can’t launch.
So the next time you have a problem on one of your projects think about this: WWND – What Would NASA Do? Better yet, when you start a project, write down all the possible scenarios, risks and decisions and a have a formal process so you can follow it when you need to.
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