The Importance of SQL Saturdays

I had the distinct honor of helping John Sterrett (t/b) and Dolph Santorine (t) organize and run SQL Saturday #717 in Wheeling, West Virginia on April 28, 2018.  It was a chance meeting at the event that drove home to me why we invest so much of our personal time and effort into organizing/running/presenting at SQL Saturdays.  The short answer as to why we do it is: We do all of this to promote free education to all who choose to seek it.  That’s right…. FREE.  Education is the best gift that can be bestowed upon and received by anyone.  I met Kyle, this was his first SQL Saturday and his tweet sums it all up:


“Free” means FREE?

Each SQL Saturday is organized by individuals or teams of volunteers.  We do not get paid for our time.  The speakers do not get paid for their time.  Speakers are sometimes compensated by their employers when they present at SQL Saturdays, but most of the time these speakers pay the travel and lodging expenses out of their own pockets!  The events are funded by sponsors.  Thus we are able to give away free education from active industry professionals!

Sponsorship is key.

Like I mentioned, the events are funded solely by sponsorship.  The cool thing about sponsoring a SQL Saturday is that not only are you expanding your marketing campaign for a minimal amount of money, you too are giving back to a noble cause.  Marian Wright Edelman wrote, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and the world better than you found it.”  Being a sponsor allows you the awesome privilege of helping make a difference in someone’s life.

Why we do what we do.

During a chance meeting at SQL Saturday Wheeling, I met a USMC Veteran who is trying to find his way in the tech field.  He was referred to the event by a college professor.  Much to his surprise, not only did he walk away from the event armed with tons of information and a new-found excitement for learning SQL, he walked away with a lot of new SQL friends and mentors.  He was introduced to fellow Ex-Marine and Veteran, Jim Donahoe (t/b), who then put him in contact with others in the industry who can directly help make an impact on his career!  That is at the core of who we are as a community.  We left as we rise.



Friends and mentors.

In the SQL community, we pride ourselves in giving back and helping others.  On twitter we even have an open hashtag (#SQLHelp) where you can ask questions and get responses from experts in the SQL community.  If you participate, you will find a friend and mentor who will help provide information, keep your spirits up, and help you find your way through the weeds.  I personally have been blessed through the community, and my mission is to help bless others.

Thoughts on being an organizer.

Helping to organize and run a SQL Saturday is no small task.  There are many moving parts, many small details that can be overlooked or forgotten.  I was so very thankful to have friends who are also organizers who helped me along the way.  I certainly learned a lot about event planning!  More-so, I learned a lot about the value of kindness.  They provided guidance and tips, and I too will do the same for others who want the help.  Standing there Saturday morning before the doors opened I thought to myself “Here we are.  All these months and we are finally here.”  And honestly, I was afraid.  What if no one showed up?  What if the equipment failed?  What if I had forgotten something?  What if lunch doesn’t show?  SQLSatWheeling

And you know what happened?  Attendees arrived, speakers arrived, everything worked, lunch arrived early, we had plenty of coffee, and everyone had a great time!  It was not a huge event. In fact, it was a very small event.  Something I noticed from being at both large and small events is that the quality of education is the same.  It is the same because the presenters are all there for the same thing I am….to share their unique vision and experience in hopes that someone in the audience will gain new perspective and it will grow their career.

Final thoughts on volunteering.

I personally feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I can help someone else with no expectation of reward.  But there is a reward, there is always a reward!  My reward was smiles from speakers and attendees, but mostly, knowing that we all touched the lives of all those who attended.  

For more information on how to attend or volunteer for a SQL Saturday in your location, please visit the SQL Saturday website!

*This blog was originally posted at :

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