Friday, October 12, 2012

Why attend LISA and how to get there on a budget

How to attend LISA on a budget

LISA '12 registration is open! The USENIX Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conference is the gathering place for some of the best in the industry.

If your job resembles system administration then you should make an effort to be in San Diego sometime between December 9 - 14th. Vint Cerf opens the technical conference on Wednesday with his Keynote then you've got an eclectic menu of choices and topics. LISA covers the broad swath of skills and technologies that a modern sysadmin needs to know to advance in the profession. I've been attending since 1995 and I still pick up gems every year. 

Why should you attend LISA?

I get it, conferences can be expensive. If you only look at them as a perk your employer provides, then you're missing the real reason to attend a conference. Of all of the reasons to attend, supporting yourself is the biggest reason to go. If your employer doesn't value your professional development, that's their prerogative. The only person who is ultimately responsible for your development is you.

To attend a full week of LISA including tutorials every day and three days of tech sessions, you could drop a pretty penny. If you're paying on your own dime, cut costs but still get there:
  • Book a flight early. As we get closer to the conference, flights will only increase. In looking at the total cost to attend, flight isn't the biggest cost.
  • Hotel - This seems like one of the bigger costs. $179/night adds up if you're staying 6 or 7 nights. 
    • So only go half the week. That cuts your hotel cost considerably.
    • Roomshare -- I get it, not everyone can share a room. A double is $199/night but if you split it in half, it's still cheaper than a single. Most of us don't spend that much time in the room. It's basically a place to sleep and shower. Just think of it as college when you shared a dorm room, only this time it is only a few nights instead of a few semesters.
    • Join the USENIX roomshare mailing list to look for people to help share costs. 
  • Conference registration -- the technical conference costs $985 before any discounts
    • Take advantage of USENIX ($125/yr) or LISA SIG ($45/yr) membership to save $170 off of the LISA technical conference.
    • See the conference discounts page for details. Here's a sampling:
      • $100 off as a government employee
      • $100 off as an employee of a non-profit
    • Do you have another hardship such as you're currently unemployed or living on a fixed income? Email to request hardship assistance.
  • Ask for a refrigerator in your room and eat on the cheap 
    • Go shopping! Ask at the hotel for a local grocery and pick up something that could make lunches--PB&J, cold cuts and bread, veggies, chips.
    • Save your leftovers. Restaurants give us way too much food, so save half and eat it for lunch the next day.
    • Remember that lunch is provide to tutorial attendees on the days of their tutorials.
I encourage students to come. I could write a whole thread on students in the community. If you're a student in system administration, or even a junior level sysadmin, LISA is the place to talk to others in the profession. What skills do they have, what are they recruiting for, what specialties exist and what do you need to break into a specialty? Companies like Google are always recruiting at LISA. Think you have what it takes? Come and talk to the companies at LISA. The people you meet just might lead to your next opportunity. How do you get past the flood of applicants for a desired job? You get to know people in the company and pre-interview in the hallway track at LISA. It's valuable to anyone in the profession but it seems vital to those just starting out...

I hope you find investment in yourself worthwhile and I hope to see you at LISA. I'd love to hear if you found any of this useful.

Your friendly neighborhood 2012 LISA program chair

No comments:

Post a Comment