User Group Idea: Present what you do for work

Ta da!

Ta da!

One consistently interesting topic for our PDXPUG meetings has essentially been show and tell. Presenters answer the question: what is it that I do for work?

We’ve had oceanography, GIS, relational algebra and even MySQL presentations that stem from this idea.

For the most part, those of us who do database work are so specialized that we might gloss over the details of our job to avoid boring our friends and colleagues to death. The fact is though, much of the work that we do *can* be made interesting for 30 or 45 minutes. And what better forum than a group of dedicated database geeks?

Some angles I’ve seen work are:

  • Giving background on the how and why of data collection (for example: Discussing probes that collect location, temperature and salinity in the ocean: how they communicate back to the mainland, data quality issues, failure modes);
  • Explaining a schema design and sample queries that work with it;
  • Going through a refactoring exercise with an existing database;
  • Describing a particularly difficult to deal with problem or incident (database migrations!) and how you did (or didn’t) solve the issues that occurred along the way;
  • Turning your meeting topic into a drinking game.

Our favorite meeting topic for drinking games is relational algebra.

The important thing about these types of presentations is that the person presenting picks the most interesting parts of their job to talk about. Enthusiasm for work shines through, and draws in the audience — a great thing when you haven’t given many presentations.

What are some topics you’ve seen, or would like to see covered related to a person’s day job?

Photo courtesy of exfordy, via Creative Commons license

One thought on “User Group Idea: Present what you do for work

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  1. Wow, if my local users groups made relational algebra into drinking games I would not only go, I would *start drinking* just to join in. That is ten kinds of awesome.