Regardless of how long they’ve used the software, there’s no better event for SAS professionals then SAS Global Forum. The event will attract thousands of users from across the globe and is an excellent place to network with and learn from users of all skill levels. To help those relatively new users of SAS experience the conference for the first time, the conference offers the Junior Professional Award program.
The program is designed exclusively for full-time SAS professionals who have used SAS on the job for three years or less, have never attended SAS Global Forum, and whose circumstances would otherwise keep them from attending. But, don’t let the word “junior” confuse you. All “new” SAS professionals regardless of age are eligible.
The Junior Professional award provides user with a waived conference registration fee, including conference meals, a free pre-conference tutorial, and great opportunities to learn from and network in a large community of SAS users. The program does not cover other costs associated with attending the event (travel and lodging are not included for example).
To apply, users need to submit fill out the online application form. Award applications must be received by January 16, 2017. Questions can be directed to the Junior Professional Program Coordinator, whose contact information can be found on the website.
To learn more about the award and its benefits, I recently sat down with one of the 2015 winners, Shavonne Standifer.
Larry LaRusso: Hello Shavonne. First of all, let me congratulate you on winning a past award. That’s a great accomplishment, for sure. So tell me, how did you first learn about the program?
Shavonne Standifer: Interestingly, I wasn’t looking specifically for the award and didn’t even really know it existed. I was searching for a SAS proceeding paper and somehow stumbled across the application. I just applied, and got it!
LL: That’s awesome. What made you want to attend SAS Global Forum?
SS: I knew a little bit about the event and really wanted to attend so that I could take advantage of the hands-on learning opportunities. I also thought it would be super cool if I could attend the lectures of my favorite SAS authors, and I knew many of them planned to present.
LL: What were your first impressions of the event?
SS: I was amazed by how many people were there. I was also amazed by how nice and helpful everyone was. I met so many new friends.
LL: What was the best part of your Global Forum experience?
SS: The best part of my experience by far was when I met John Amrhein. We met during a networking event in the Quad. After subjecting him to a 2-minute rant about how much I loved SAS software, and all of the reasons why, he finally had a minute to introduce himself and mentioned that he was the 2017 global forum conference chair. I was completely shocked! To my complete surprise, he encouraged me to be a part of his team, to which I later applied and was accepted.
LL: What are doing now? Are you using SAS?
SS: I currently use SAS software to provide data and statistical analysis that support the strategic business objectives of my organization. I am also a member of the conference planning team where I assist with the selection and delivery of Global Forum papers and volunteer coordination. Having the opportunity to be a part of this team has helped to increase my knowledge of SAS technologies and business trends. It’s been an incredible experience.
LL: How were you able to apply the knowledge you gained from the experience to what you’re doing now?
SS: Most definitely. I’ve used the learning from a tutorial Art Carpenter presented on Innovative SAS Techniques to help me utilize SAS more efficiently for data cleaning, scrubbing, and reshaping big datasets. The knowledge I gained has really helped improve project turnaround and provide more meaningful insights.
LL: Are you planning to attend SAS Global Forum again?
SS: Absolutely! In fact, I have returned every year since winning that award and plan to for many years to come. It’s just a great place to learn from and network with fellow SAS users.
LL: Any other comments you’d like to share about the award?
SS: I would encourage anyone who is eligible to consider applying for the award. I remember sitting in front of my laptop, hopeful, but thinking that I had a 1 in a million chance of being selected for the award. I decided to give it a try and it has changed my life! So much awesomeness has occurred in both my professional and personal life as a direct result of receiving the award. Professionally, the advice and mentorship from expert SAS users has helped me mature my SAS programming talents. Personally, the fellow JPP awardees that I’ve met along the way has provided an extended community of users whom I can call or email to ask advice. We keep in contact and support one another as needed, these relationships are invaluable. If you are eligible, Apply! It’s a great opportunity!
LL: Thanks Shavonne. Sounds like it was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed our time together.