Okay, technically, TechEd North America 2014 is less than four weeks away. Some of our favorite TechEd alumni from Europe are already procuring goodies and packing for the trip (Hi Patrik and Bjarne!). I just watched Rick and Joey's latest Countdown Show episode (the one about the newbies, see below). Here's a quick list of "what to do now" from me, whether you're a n00b or a TechEd alum.
See you in Houston soon!
First to comment? Eeenteresting. I quizzed out as "The Sponge". Hoping to take an exam onsite, but may do that upon my return... I do have some 40% off vouchers that we got as a Microsoft Partner, so... it's a better use of my time to take tests later and soak up more knowledge during the limited time onsite!
Socialite and Jack of All Trades - and now back to some more packing... :-)
I'll be honest, booking an exam slot at TechEd is probably not the best use of time for most attendees. The fact that you'll be trading off time that could be spent learning something in a session is a big negative in my book. Most people can take a test anytime, but the TechEd sessions only come once per year. Granted, there are certainly people who are traveling from areas where certification testing can be a major ordeal (requiring hours of travel to get to the nearest test center, etc), but for the majority of people I think the sessions are a much better use of time.
I ended up taking an exam last year (my second TechEd) because it was half price and regretted it. Because of the relatively few time slots available for me to take the exam, I actually missed two sessions (one of which was the PowerShell DSC session!). I'd rather have spent the extra $75 on the test when I got home and been in sessions instead...not to mention the time that I spent studying in my hotel room in the evening instead of attending vendor parties/events.
Planning is important when trying to take exams. Consider taking exams on Sunday before any other activities begin, especially if you can come on Saturday.
@KevinM - Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Everyone attends conferences for different reason, and manages his/her schedule based on priorities, whether business or personal. For many, getting certified during a conference is one way to demonstrate the ROI to their employers. For others, it is more challenging to arrange time away for exams while working, so it's convenient to get it done onsite after they've spent some time studying prior to conference week.
Sessions are of course a huge part of any conference, and it's always wonderful to learn from the presenters in person. Some attendees prefer to spend more time networking, and catch the sessions on-demand later. Again, it's really a personal decision. That's why it's so great that TechEd offers so many options, so all attendees can really make the most of their week, no matter what their goals are.
Sunday is great day for exams since for many there is not other program yet. Also it is convenient way to get it out of the way right after a long flight to Houston that at least I practically spend in reading for the exam.
And talking about exams: it's less than 3 weeks to go so now it's good time to put some effort in the learning process to be ready before TechEd.