We expect over 350 people to be coming to SESUG Williamsburg. People from all parts of the southeast United States, from the Northeast, from the Midwest, and even from California. What the heck are all those people going to do?
image from www.familyvacationcritic.com
Nota Bene: Make sure you get the app. This will be our main channel of communication for the conference, where we’ll start filling in the details on all of these activities. You can get the app via tinyurl.com/sesug-wmbg or this QR code.
Of course, there are lots of good papers to see at the conference and people are going to be taking advantage of as many of them as possible. Rachel’s blog on the Contours of the Conference give a tantalizing overview of the many exciting topics.
But the conference won’t be going 24/7 and it shouldn’t. Analytics and data are amazing, but, and don’t hate me for this, they aren’t all there is.
People will be looking for things to do over the weekend, during lunch and in the evenings, and, like any good destination location, it turns out that there are many exciting activities in the area. The City of Williamsburg, in addition to York and James City Counties, spent $1.25 billion to provide public education and colonial hospitality and preserve historic structures and artifacts. They strive to “take colonial history out of the glass exhibit case and bring it to life. Paid visitors can throw axes at a target, shoot colonial-era muskets and make candles through a dipping process.”
There are great websites with good information about things to do. For example, this site has found 25 free things to do in Williamsburg, including riding the Jamestown Ferry, visiting the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, adventuring on a 30,000 sq. ft. playground for your kids, touring the College of William and Mary, and 21 other activities, though I’m sure they didn’t get all of them. Oddly enough, they don’t include taking a nap.
Here’s another site that lists Things to do in Williamsburg VA as well as some of the many, many places to eat. Because lunch and dinner are on your own, you’ll want to check out the area restaurants. We’ll help you out and more will be coming later about the various food options.
Here’s a fun list from a few years ago: 10 Things The Founding Fathers Would Be Doing In Williamsburg, VA, Today
And “from the horse’s mouth,” we have Things to do in Colonial Williamsburg.
While we want you to explore and enjoy the beautiful and rich area, SESUG will have many things for you to do, also. Most of these are directly sponsored and organized by SESUG, others are just organized and then some are just, “Hey, check this out if you want!” Let’s see what there will be.
Disclaimer: Things change. What is described below is our best understand of the conference that will happen two months from now. We want things to happen this way or better. But things change. Don’t take this as a promise or guarantee. If they do change, we’ll let you know.
Saturday and Sunday
Things are quiet Saturday. The Conference Workshops start Saturday afternoon and are wonderful, cost-effective ways for detailed learning and SME interaction. Most of them are on Sunday. One of them is on Wednesday, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
If you golf, the Williamsburg Lodge is right next to the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. The Gold Course was recently renovated and for the more advanced golfer. The Green course is longer and a little more forgiving. The Spotswood Course (shown on the left) is for great family fun.
We might have Yoga available on Sunday. One of SAS’ best instructors, Charu Shankar, will be leading like-minded individuals in yoga, on her own mind you, to help you relax in preparation for the conference. Whether she does it on Sunday depends on whether she gets in to Williamsburg on Saturday or not. If so, look for her in the Liberty Room at 7 am.
Do you want to build up your physical muscles before you build the mental ones? You can use the Fitness Center with a full-featured gym or swim in the indoor lap pool. If more relaxation and rejuvenation is what you’re looking for, then The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg is the place to be. You can enjoy a Seaweed Body Detox Treatment (Don’t ask me. I have no idea) or come as you are for a Nirvana Stress Relief Massage. They have many options.
Of course, there are meetings Sunday afternoon. First Timers, Grant Recipients, Section Chairs, Speakers and Volunteers will all be getting together to prep for the conference and make it the best one yet! (Note that we still need volunteers. Go here to do so.)
“Research shows that by 30 days after an initial learning event, if no attempt is made to retain the learning, we remember only about 21% of what is learned.” (Sorry. I forget who said that.) Use this time on Sunday afternoon to set learning goals for the conference. Prepare for after the conference now so that you can retain what you’ll learn.
Use this time, too, to sign up for a Birds of a Feather meet-up. See the options below for Monday evening.
The Opening Session is Sunday evening. We’ll have delicious desserts, snacks and a bar. You will have time to eat, but save room for dessert, though!
Sure, at the opening session, we’ll have all the boring stuff 😊, but then the rest of the evening is all about escaping and relaxing. We will be building up our reserves, calming and warming up the mind so that we can learn, process, analyze and enrich those minds and our skills over the next two days.
If you are up and about and want to energize for the day, Charu (see above) will be leading a yoga session at 7 am in the Liberty Room. Bring comfortable clothes. Don’t be late for breakfast and the speaker, though!
We are kicking off Monday morning with a keynote breakfast. The plated breakfast will be the finest in all Williamsburg. The speaker (more on that later <cue suspenseful music>) will be the finest, as well.
From breakfast, most of us will be going to the Academic sessions. We have lots of great sections with lots of great papers. For the in-between times, or if there’s just not a session you like, there are still edifying things you can do.
The Exhibit Hall will be in two areas. SAS and some sponsors will be in the Virginia D. Other sponsors may be out in the Virginia foyer. Not only are they important to talk to because they are sponsoring the conference and helping us do what we do without raising the fees too much, but they also have great knowledge about SAS, analytics, the industry, the market, hiring, and more. They are a veritable wealth of knowledge that you can tap into. Visit them. THANK them. Learn from them.
Speaking of veritable wealth of knowledge, we will also be having the Code Doctors at times throughout the day. These experts in SAS coding are volunteering to help you solve problems that you are having with your code. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. Most of them are very gregarious. They also like helping people, even if it’s not their particular area of expertise, which is hard because they have lots of areas of expertise. Don’t make them waste their time being bored. Bring your challenging problems and see if you can stump them.
We are doing more this year to help attendees and companies connect. We used to be concerned, let’s say, that companies wouldn’t send their people if we allowed active recruiting. Maybe that was true before the internet and LinkedIn but now companies are recruiting and employees are looking all the time. Particularly if you are a soon-to-be graduating student or a company looking for one, then SESUG will be a great opportunity for you to meet face-to-face and, just maybe, it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Technically it’s not Noon as we are breaking for lunch at 11:30 am! Lunch is not being provided by the conference for two reasons. The first is that there are many, many great options in the area. Watch for more information in the October blog, but for now, there will be a restaurant and a deli in the hotel. There are restaurants in Merchants Square and a shuttle that we can use to get to these places. Bus service is free to all guests staying at official Colonial Williamsburg hotels. That’s us! Buses operate from 9 am to 10 pm daily and arrive at each stop at least once every fifteen minutes. Finally, there are lots of chains and local restaurants down Richmond Rd only 10 minutes away. Again, more later.
How’s your LinkedIn profile? Are you making the connections you want? A LinkedIn expert will be at the conference in the Virginia D to review your profile with you and give you their tips. You can stop in to the Exhibit Hall starting at Noon and they’ll help you improve your profile (if you need it!) to attract more connections.
We will take a break from the learning Monday afternoon for a Networking Snack. Attendees can enjoy the best snacks that the hotel can offer, some that you can only get at the Williamsburg Lodge, while you discuss what you’ve been learning that day. Network with others to see what they have done in the area. Question the vendors about what they have to offer. Share your experiences and learnings. Challenge each other! What a great way to learn.
We end the afternoon and move into the evening with the noble tradition of the SAS Reception. They provide the food, drink and experts, and you provide the questions. What a great time! They want to hear from you, too. What are you doing with SAS? What do you want SAS to do that it doesn’t now? Give your feedback. They want to hear!
Monday evening is the traditional time for an all out party. And this year, you get that that with options! We start with BOFs and the Colonial 5K Fun Run.
Birds of a Feather
In what analytics topic are you very interested? SQL? NOSQL? Visualizations? Python? Semi-colons? Data Science jobs? Birds of a Feather (BOF) are people interested in the same thing. You can sign-up for one of the pre-chosen BOFs or one that someone added on-site. Join them at the selected restaurant and go for it! Get to know each other. Connect on LinkedIn. Enjoy the amazing food and drink that the area restaurants have while you go on and on about SQL vs. the Data Step, integrating SAS and python, putting visualizations on interactive graphs or whatever most interests you.
Colonial 5K Fun Run and Walk
The Williamsburg area and the William and Mary campus are very beautiful. We will have a 5K Fun Run and Walk to enjoy the scenery and do something good for our health. We’ll use the route that the DoG Street Running Club uses for our run. See the map below. You can go as fast or as slow as you want. It’s a Fun Run, after all. If you want to walk it, then that’s beautiful, too. We’ll probably have a waiver or something, so be looking out for that.
After a run, walk or bit of BOF-ing, join us for a casual, self-directed tour of the pubs, taverns and breweries that Colonial Williamsburg area has to offer on DoG street and nearby. If we’re adventurous, we may walk out to Brickhouse Tavern Williamsburg and do some karaoke! We’ll probably need another waiver, mostly for the karaoke. Anyone have any experience with that?
If you like spooky fun, Williamsburg has Ghost Tours that will excite and titillate you. Here’s a list of tours from TripAdvisor.
If she didn’t enjoy the Pub Crawl and ghost tours much, Charu will again be leading in a yoga session at 7 am in the Liberty Room. Bring comfortable clothes.
“[I] Woke up on a groovy Tuesday. Even my hangover’s fine. Woke up on a groovy Tuesday. Hung my mind out on the line.” Now it’s time to bring your mind in from the line for another exciting day of networking and learning. We’ll be starting off with food for the belly and food for the mind. The breakfast buffet in the beautiful Virginia E and F will be paired with an open SAS Exhibit Hall. What questions from the day before do you want to ask a SAS SME about? What products did you not get demo’d the day before and you still want to see? The exhibit hall will be open to breakfast area so you can have some meaningful conversations over eggs and coffee. Start the day with energy for the body and mind!
Did you miss the LinkedIn SME Monday afternoon? They will be there again Tuesday morning. Beef up that profile! Make connections! Rule the world! Okay, don’t do that.
Did you go to the Fun Run and miss the BOFs? Here’s your second chance to network on your most exciting topic with like-minded peers. Find the designated place and grab a lunch and learn.
“Tuesday afternoon / I’m just beginning to see / Now I’m on my way / It doesn’t matter to me / Chasing the clouds away” Wow! You’ve just finished an amazing two and a half days of maybe the best education and expansion of the whole year. Closing session will be nice wrap up of the events. Say “see you later!” to old friends and new ones. Could there be door prizes? We’ll see!
What?! Can’t get enough of the awesome SESUG Williamsburg?! If you have the luxury of spending another half-day learning more techniques to make you even more valuable to your employer, then we are here for you. The conference may be over, but Josh Horstman will be teaching “Advanced SAS Macro Language Techniques for Building Dynamic Programs.” Rachel and I will be around Wednesday, too, so please stop us, say “hi” and tell us what you liked and didn’t like about the conference. It matters to us.
By the way, remember to get the app. This will be our main channel of communication for the conference, where we’ll start filling in the details on all of these activities. You can get the app via tinyurl.org/sesug or this QR code.
Now you’re back in the office. Hard at work. Will you use what you’ve learned? Yes! If you want to. Here are some tips to know now for after the conference.
Review and organize your notes from the conference.
Download and highlight papers for talks you attended.
Download and highlight papers for talks you didn’t.
Plan 10 ways that you can use what you’ve learned in your day-to-day job.
Teach your colleagues what you learned at the conference. You greatly enhance your learning when you teach others.
Start planning for the paper you are going to give the next year.