Helping students get the most out of attending their first SAS Users Group Conference


Student’s schedules are packed with activities these days but taking time out to attend a conference is always a great addition to any semester.  For students who use SAS and want to attend a SAS Users Group conference, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the event.

1)      Arrive early

Opening session is a great way to get the feel for what you will experience at the conference. It is also a great opportunity to meet other SAS users before the conference kicks into high gear.  With everyone scurrying between sessions hoping to attend every presentation of interest, it can get pretty frantic during the main conference days.

There is also a “first-timers” session which will provide even more information and tips to help you really make the most of the conference.

2)      Make a plan

Conferences are schedule driven.  The conference website is a great place to view the full range of activities.  All sessions are noted with the time and place.  Take time to review the entire schedule before the conference and plan out the activities you want to attend.

It is likely there will be two or more presentations you want to attend that are scheduled for the same time slot.  Consider rank ordering the presentations so you can manage your choices.  If the session turns out not to be what you expected, you can pop out and head to the other one.

3)      Pick up handouts for any sessions you miss due to scheduling conflicts

If there is a presentation you are interested in and you miss it, plan to stop by and pick up any handouts that were provided. While it’s certianly not the same as attending the presentation in person, it will give you the highlights of what you missed.

4)      Network at the conference

SAS User Group conferences are a great way for students to find potential employment opportunities and career ideas.  The conference is filled with other people who use SAS.  Talk to people about how they use SAS; you are sure to learn some tips to help you become a better SAS programmer. You might even find that SAS is being used in ways you’ve not thought of before.

5)      Get certified

Many of the SAS User Group conferences offer the SAS Certification exams at the conference.  As a student you are eligible for student pricing on the exam.  There are also often “practice exams” you can take at the conference at no charge.  This is a quick way to gauge your exam readiness.  These are generally offered at the SAS Education booth in the demo room.  Earning a SAS certification is a great addition to your resume.

6)      Look out for giveaways

SAS User Group Conferences are known for their awesome giveaways.  Books, free training classes, and free certification exam vouchers are just a few of the giveaways you are likely to see at the conference.

7)      Volunteer

One of the best ways to make the most out of attending the conference is to volunteer.  Volunteering will give you exposure to a variety of activities and allow you to meet people who are involved with the conference.  Being a conference volunteer is also something that can be included on your resume.

There are a lot of great activities to attend at a SAS user group conference.  Come to the conference with a plan of action, a desire to learn, an interest in meeting other SAS users, and you are sure to have a great conference!


About Author

Julie Petlick

SAS Student Programs Manager

Julie Petlick works in the SAS Education Division as part of the Global Academic Program team. Julie is responsible for the SAS Student Program and is dedicated to supporting teaching and learning.

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  1. Pingback: Helping students get the most out of attending their first SAS Users Group Conference - SAS Users Groups

  2. Jonathan Steinberg on

    Julie, I wanted to thank you for writing about student interactions with SAS. I generally attend two different types of conferences: educational research-oriented, but also technical such as RUGs. I use these types of conferences for networking to help with my work at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, so I’m always on the lookout for students who might be interested in educational research and have strong or developing SAS skill sets.

    So again my thanks to you and your colleagues for publicizing this and may I even suggest a new blog devoted just to the student SAS experience because I have found in the educational research community that graduate students really benefit from being able to network with experienced professionals in various fields and when they can showcase their work at an RUG or other forum, it can have long-term benefits.

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