Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Training Budget Still No Excuse

When I first started by career in IT and SQL Server about 10 years ago I lived in a small town in northern New Hampshire.  I used my location as an excuse not to attend user groups and other events, unless the boss was willing to foot the bill.  Now I realize my mistake, I’m in charge of my professional development, and now, location is no excuse.  Here’s a list of just some of the FREE training available online:

  • JumpstartTV - short (3-5 minute), specific how-to videos for SQL Server and .NET.
  • Channel 9 – MSDN’s video training library. This has videos on just about everything microsoft. Over 200 on SQL Server 2008 alone.
  • PASS - the Official Professional Association of SQL Server web site. PASS offers Virtual Chapters (user groups that meet online monthly).  Be sure to check out the upcoming 24 hours of PASS
  • Quest Software – Quest offers free webcasts on several technologies including SQL Server and some on Quest products but many general ones. Check out Quest Connect
  • SQLServerPedia - has video podcasts as well as blogs, wiki, and articles.
  • SQLServerCentral – forums, articles, scripts, blogs, and videos. What more can you ask for?

I’m sure there are other resources as well.

Now on to the FREE events. 

  • The biggest one for SQL Server, well, at least in my opinion, is the SQLSaturday franchise.  There have been about 20 over the last 2 years from Florida to Oregon.  I should make a disclaimer that I have spoken at 2, attended another, and the franchise is owned by my friend, Andy Warren and his partners.  Actually the first SQLSaturday event was when I met Andy, actually the day before at the Day with Celko event done in conjunction with the SQLSaturday.  It’s a full day of free SQL Server training with some national speakers along with the best local speakers.
  • Code Camps – these one day events for .NET are what SQLSaturday is based on, so if you need .NET training here’s a way to get it.
  • PASS – offers a SQLSaturday like event support with it’s Community Connections
  • User Groups – just BING or GOOGLE for [your technology and location] User Group.  I’m sure you’ll find something in your area.  PASS has a list of official chapters for SQL Server.  I know of Sharepoint, Java, .NET, and Agile user groups.  I’m sure there are others.

As you can see there are plenty of training options that will only cost you time and maybe travel expenses and that’s really an investment in you. 


  1. I agree with you 100%.

    I'd like to add one idea for people to consider. If there's no user group in your area then you might want to think about starting your own. As co-founder of the Memphis PASS chapter, I can tell you that starting a new user group will certainly help you make some new connections.

  2. Jack, great post. There are lots of resources, both free and almost free, that remove the financial excuses from bettering oneself. I'm especially fond of the in-person events including SQL Saturday, as well as local user groups. In addition to the practical knowledge you collect at these events, you also get the opportunity to network with other professionals, which is increasingly important especially in a slumping economy.

  3. Alvin,

    Starting your own user group is definitely a good option especially if Live Meeting type events are doable at your location.

  4. Tim,

    Thanks. Yeah this was not meant to be an all-inclusive list of resources, but does cover most of the ones I've used.

    I also prefer the in-person events for the same reason you mention. As a matter of fact, usually the best stuff I take away from events come from out of session discussions.


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