As announced in the March 21, 2012 PASS Community Connector newsletter, PASS is looking for a few good volunteers for the 2012 Summit Program Committee. What is it, what do they do, and why should you care?

The Program Committee is responsible for reviewing every abstract and every speaker that submits to speak at PASS Summit. Every. Single. One. Hundreds of abstracts are submitted by hundreds of speakers, so this is a lot of work! A great review of the process from 2011 can be found at In 2011, the volunteers were divided into two groups: speaker review and abstract review. The speaker team was responsible for determining the credentials, experience, and quality of each speaker. The abstract team was responsible for reviewing each abstract for completeness, appeal, and level. Then, the sessions were chosen and a schedule was created. This resulted in the high-quality training the people who attended PASS Summit 2011 received. (Full disclosure: I was one of the speakers chosen. It was still an awesome conference.)

I volunteered for it last year, was accepted, and served on the speaker review team. I really enjoyed the process. Now that the call for volunteers is open again, I’m suggesting people that like to volunteer and can make time for it in May/June apply! I’ve had a few questions about it, so I wanted to share my experience from last year.


Giving the thumbs up to sessions and speakers is fun!

What do I need to do to get started? Fill out this application. It’s simple – most of the questions are about your familiarity with the various tracks. 
How much time will it take? This is going to vary, from task to task and person to person. I spent 3 weeks working on speaker review. On average, I spent about 10 hours each of those weeks. I dug in for about 2 hours a night a couple nights a week, staying up late, and put in a couple hours on Sunday mornings and afternoons . The good: this is a short-term assignment with a definite start and end. The bad: you need to be able to dedicate the time to that, on top of family, work, recreation, sleep, and any other activities you might have. (I, for one, am glad that my marathon will be over at that point.) 
What am I going to be doing? I can’t tell you that for sure, but you will be reviewing speakers and abstracts.
I’ve never done this before! Don’t worry – neither had I. I was still able to be successful. I knew a few of the speakers from user groups, SQL Saturdays, 24 Hours of PASS, and other training events, but no way had I heard or heard of everyone that submitted. I came up with a process for checking each of them, and I did a thorough job.  Also, remember that you won’t be working alone. There will be a team of people helping you, with managers on each team. Everyone involved was open and helpful. 
What do I get out of it? You won’t get a plaque or win a million dollars. You get the opportunity to shape the content of one of the largest SQL Server training events held each year. You get the chance to learn more about the speakers that will be there, and what they will be speaking about. You get to meet other volunteers, who are really good people. Best of all, you get to give back to the SQL community, which is awesome.

A note for speakers: if you’re going to submit abstracts, you won’t be able to submit in the same category you’re reviewing.

Have I talked you into volunteering? Awesome! I love it when I can get people interested in helping others.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fill out the application by 9:00 PM PST on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Yes, that’s this week – so hurry!