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Orlando PASS – Moving on Up


I listened to this catchy tune from a classic T.V. show, The Jeffersons, the entire time I wrote this post. Feel free to do the same as you read this. You will have it stuck in your head all day long, even with a little skip in your walk. Consider yourself warned.

After two years at the same meeting location, Logan’s Restaurant on Hwy 46 in Sanford, we’ve bitten the bullet and made a tough decision to go ahead and move OPASS to ITT Tech here in Lake Mary. It was a nice steady ride, which the year prior to that we had a couple of changes, so we were feeling quite comfortable with what we had. However, there were two big problems with Logan’s, very limited seating (at max could hold 35) and sound issues.

I first want to thank Logan’s immensely for how accommodating they were to us. They did a great job of taking care of us and our attendees. Free space and we just paid for the food trays, which they would give us happy hour prices on things like the wings as well as carry over the happy hour prices on drinks through the meeting for our attendees; we’d have sliders, tenders, and a great Santa Fe salad with grilled chicken, and really all for about the same price that I hear folks spend on pizza. They always provided us with a dedicated server, (not SQL), for the entire three hour long meeting. They have a “garage style” room, which had a very cool “vibe” to it. Speakers really liked it, as it gave the meeting a more intimate feel to it.

However, the size was limiting us from bringing in some of the speakers that in the past had brought in between 45 – 60 attendees. We typically stick with good local speakers, by local I mean within a two hour drive to us, but of course on occasion you want to be able to take advantage of a speaker coming through that you know is going to pack the place out. We just couldn’t do it with what we had for space, so had to pass up some great opportunities.

There was also the issue with the sound. Not just the acoustics coming off the glass garage doors (was that even glass, maybe it was plastic, I’m not sure now, never touched it), but whenever regular restaurant guests would eat out on the patio. It would get so loud, that if you were sitting in the back of the meeting room, you couldn’t hear the speaker most of the time. (Funny how folks who sit out on patios are loud, wonder if that’s why I like eating outside everywhere I go. I’ll leave that one with you to ponder for a second). Overall it’s probably unfair to say we are “moving on up”, but in many ways, we are.

Two meetings ago we asked the attendees about moving, and the first question was “will ITT allow alcohol?”, which of course we knew they would not. This past meeting we asked again, stressing that the importance of these meetings was the training, and most everyone was in agreement that it was in the best interest for all that we go ahead and relocate. At this point, we hadn’t even contacted ITT yet, we were really just hoping we’d get a good response from them.

Well we did. I finally sent the dean an email about a week ago with a long explanation of who we were and what all we did. To my surprise I got an immediate response, copied in with two other ITT reps, enthusiastically saying that yes they’d love to have us there, and they’d be in touch. That same day one of the reps emailed me back and in a whirlwind of less than 48 hours everything was all set, and bonus, we were asked to come introduce ourselves to some of the students. How cool is that!

I think it was actually put to us as “would you mind doing a brief introduction”, to which I asked if we could present a few slides (15 it came out to be in total, and that was with cutbacks; there’s just so much to talk about in this amazing SQL community!). Then I asked if the whole OPASS team could be there, and that was also approved. Luckily the entire team, all 4 of us, were available for this opportunity. As emails flew, next thing we hear is that it will be recorded for all students to access. Awesome!

Last night was the presentation. They had us open first before their actual class started. We each took a few slides to talk to, for which I thought might take all of 10 minutes tops, but alas, we went over 30 minutes. This is only because the students were so engaged with what we were informing them on (ok, maybe a little of that was just how much we all love this community and what it has to offer). We talked about OPASS, MagicPASS, ONETUG, SQLSaturday, PASS, Professional Development, and touched some on social media. Ben talked about his first SQLSaturday just three years ago. I talked about SQLShots, and the importance of taking a stab at presenting, how important it will be as their careers evolve. One in the crowd was very much against it (typical), but you could see several others nodding in agreement. They know that they can’t just sit behind a computer; that they will at some point have to be able to talk to either clients, their supervisors, their co-workers. Rodney talked about the SQLSaturday Orlando track we’re doing this year “Student to IT Pro”. And el-Presidente Shawn talked about OPASS and the monthly meetings, and our new networking location, the Hyatt Place lobby/bar, just a block down the street.

It was so exciting to see that most of them actually really were “into” this. I’m not sure what I expected, I think I probably imagined it would be just a bunch of blank faces wondering who are these “old farts” and what the heck is SQL Server. They asked some great questions, all of them took the SQLSaturday flyers we brought, and probably half of them took our business cards. One student’s father was with her, and they were already on the SQLSaturday Orlando registration page on her laptop. The teacher got up at the end and said a few words. He himself has only been in IT for the past 4 or 5 years, previously was in healthcare for over 20 years. A comment he made really resonated with all of the OPASS team, and that was that he had wished that a group like ours would have come to his college when he was young and opened his eyes to all the various opportunities there are in the IT community. We realize now that we should be trying to do this at all the local colleges. How many of us wish that someone had told us when we were young about all these opportunities. It’s time to up the ante on this here in Orlando, and reach further.

As we made our way out, I had goosebumps, a tear in my eye, yet a beaming smile over what just occurred. They took our pictures, and Shawn and I met with the dean briefly. They were thanking us so much, yet here we were so thankful for this opportunity and for the meeting space for our meetings.

By the time I got to my car, one had already sent me an invite on LinkedIN. How cool is that! At the beginning of the talk, while we waited for some students from another class to join, Rodney asked how many had heard of SQL Server, and only one hand went up. An ex-military guy who worked with SQL Server some while in the Army. At the end, he then asked how many were interested in SQL Server now and taking the career path of a DBA, and 8 hands went up. Now that is #SQLWinning!

Meet the OPASS Team:

Shawn McGehee (far right) – President

Ben Cork (far left) – Webmaster

Me (the short one) – Community Outreach Coordinator

Rodney Landrum (the tall one) – Local MS MVP (aka, backup to all, including speakers)


“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – I just love this!

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