Convention Idea – Presentations on Certifications

The roundup of convention ideas is here.

So what certifications are the pro-fans at your con interested in?

People who want careers based around their interests and obsessions have many steps to follow – education, employment, portfolio building, etc.  Missing from this list in all too many cases are professional certifications, except, perhaps in the IT field (and even then they can get overlooked).  Even though certifications can make a difference in a job search (as I have seen firsthand), they do get forgotten all too easily.

The fact people often forget the importance of certifications amazes me.  I am not sure why this happens, but my guess is that when you look at all the other things in your career, it simply doesn't come up.  When your major concern is finishing a degree or finding the right job, you're not exactly thinking about going through some grueling (or boring) tests.

This is a perfect opportunity to do more at your convention – do a panel or panels on certifications that your audience would be interested in.  Get people with those certifications to talk about how they got them, why they got them, and what people need to do to get them.  Doing events about certifications gives you more events, helps more people, and helps your attendees be aware of this important, if overlooked, parts of their career.

What could you do to make these events?

  • Ask your regular career speakers about what certifications they have.
  • A good internet search will of course do wonders for helping you get informed.
  • Do some research on certifications and certification bodies – their websites may help you find contacts to do events.
  • Ask yourself what certifications you have – they may be worth speaking on.
  • Don't shy away from controversy.  Why not have a debate on the merits of certain certifications?

A few evenings of research will give you a wealth of material and ideas.  The research may also help you make good and interesting contacts for the convention.

A few tips on organizing a panel on certification (having attended some in non-convention events):

  • Make sure anyone speaking on how to get certified has the certification in question.  Otherwise they're not credible.  (in the case of a debate, of course, it may change)
  • Handouts and resources are necessary.  If there isn't something to take away, the panel is much less useful.
  • Make sure the presentation is well-organized unless it is more freeform by intention.  These subjects are best done with an organized plan and time for questions.

So there you are.  For your next convention, get someone to speak on certifications and careers, have a debate, what have you.  You'll get a new panel or two, keep people informed, and help your attendees be aware of an often overlooked subject.

– Steven Savage