Ponying-up $50K a year to join the Orangemen and women of Syracuse could be your key to success in the professional world, but a diploma still won’t come with guarantees. That prestigious sheepskin hanging on a wall won’t pay off student loan bills by itself, either.
College classes are not only expensive, but they usually lag behind the constantly changing pace of the real world. Instead, obtain the latest knowledge and skills directly from the leading experts in the field at a fraction of the cost by attending a conference that’s narrowly focused on your area of interest.
As a bonus, the business contacts made at the top events will do more to help you get ahead than being a member of any alumni group. These days, it’s more about who you know and what you can do than where you went to school. If it’s time to jumpstart your career (or save your job), look into these great opportunities to take your skill set to the next level:
Data Modeling Masterclass
Next Event: March 8-9, 2012
Cost: To Be Announced
With the increasing need for more complicated analytics and faster data retrieval, data modelers are in high demand. If you already know the basics, this class is intended to turn you into a data-warehousing master overnight. If you already know a bit about database theory, this could be your ticket to a promotion, a fat raise, or a totally new career.
Pros: The Data Modeling Masterclass delivers practical skills that you’ll be able to apply immediately to any IT job.
Cons: This hands-on workshop is designed to pack a ton of information into a very short timeframe. If your skills aren’t already top-notch, you could have trouble keeping up.
23rd IEEE International Conference on Tools with Artificial Intelligence
Next Event: October 1-3, 2012
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Cost: To Be Announced
If you have always thought about making the jump from business- and web-related computing to the exciting world of artificial intelligence, this conference will give you a chance to see what it’s all about. The leading experts in this emerging field of research will present the latest findings and conduct individual workshops.
Pros: While this area used to be the stuff of dreams, the fields of engineering, robotics, and IT are merging to create amazing new products. This could be your chance to make a first step into the hot, new field of the future.
Cons: Some long-time IT staffers might have a difficult time transitioning their current skills into this rapidly developing field.
Practical Cloud Computing from Scratch
Next Event: Annually in September
Location: Zone 1, London
This valuable workshop is intended to take the beginner all the way from the basics to actually working in the cloud. Using Amazon Web Services, attendees will:
- Implement a real application
- Use an API with cloud technology
- Design, develop, and implement a simple, scalable system
Pros: Practical Cloud Computing quickly covers the basics in this trending tech area.
Cons: Although you’ll learn the ropes, it’s doubtful anyone can become an expert in this area in a single day.
International Health Infomatics Symposium
Next Event: January 28-30, 2012
Location: Miami, Florida
Cost: To Be Announced
Between HIPAA, EHR/EMR, and rapidly developing medical technology, the healthcare niche has become one of the most rapidly expanding areas of the IT industry. If your current employment area is endangered, this conference will give you enough information to sound like you have more than a clue during your next interview with potential employers such as insurance companies, major hospitals, or research groups.
Pros: This event is a good way to see if you should focus on the healthcare industry as your next career move.
Cons: Without some background knowledge as a frame of reference, you may not fully understand some of the information presented at this symposium.
Next Event: May 6-10, 2012
Location: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
Cost: Prices vary from $100 for an Expo Only ticket to $3,295 for a last-minute Flex Pass.
This five-day event is packed full of opportunities to learn more about the latest trends in the IT world. Instead of just listening to pie-in-the-sky speeches about what “might be,” attend hands-on workshops that will develop practical skills you can use today with your current employer, your next opportunity, or with your own business. Here are a few of the learning opportunities Interop will offer:
- CIO Bootcamp
- Principles of Effective IT Management
- Enterprise Cloud Summit
- Virtualization Management
Pros: Interop New York provides endless opportunities to network with the movers and shakers in the IT industry.
Cons: This expensive convention is directed toward the executive-level IT employee.
This is just a taste of what’s out there. The IT world, and just about every other employment sector, is filled with conferences, seminars, and other opportunities to network with your peers and learn about the best in emerging technology.
Of course, no one can attend them all. If you’re thinking about making a career change and you’d like a little advice about the most valuable event to attend, speak to a career counselor or recruiter. They keep their fingers on the pulse of their niche industries and usually know what skills will be hot in time for you to get a jump on the competition.