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Why I, and You, Should Attend the Southern Data Science Conference

July 27, 2018

As an aspiring data scientist and seriously nerdy data nerd, I was incredibly excited to attend 2018’s Southern Data Science Conference (SDSC). A colleague of mine had mentioned that SDSC was a great place to learn more about data science while also meet some interesting people in the field, so I registered for a ticket as soon as possible.


After registering for SDSC, I became a “SDSC evangelist,” sharing the Conference schedule with as many people as possible to encourage my colleagues to join me. But at first, not everyone was as excited as I was about attending SDSC. Two days of talking about nothing but data and data science? For me, attending SDSC would be two days of nerdy, wonky, fun. However, for others, it wasn’t perceived to be that much fun.


So, what am I, a self-proclaimed data nerd supposed to do then? For me, the answer was simple: provide people with some excellent reasons why they should attend the Southern Data Science Conference. Here are a few reasons to attend:


Learn new things

I am a lifelong learner. For me, life is a journey to learn more things. Since I come from a family of educators, learning is extremely important to me. I was excited the first time I learned how to code. I also was excited the first time I learned how to use power tools without losing a limb or finger. And learning more about data science – another “new thing” – at SDSC was a great opportunity to expand my horizons and grow.


Since I am a newbie in the data science field, some of the sessions were at a more technical level. There were a few terms that I had to google to get a broader understanding of. For me, learning more about data science at SDSC was very exciting, exploring the possibilities of how data can be proactively used to make better-informed decisions. SDSC’s environment encouraged me to learn more about a field that I have just recently entered, providing a welcoming environment in which to learn.


Meet new people

Have you ever been to a conference that is so big that you feel lost in a never-ending sea of people? That’s not fun, right? Well, have no fear of that at SDSC. The Conference is the perfect size. Not too small. Not too large. Just the right size. You can, for example, meet SDSC speakers in the lunch line and start an impromptu conversation about any and all topics related to data science. Yes, they are that engaging and nice.


But what if you’re shy or an introvert? For us introverts, meeting new people might be uncomfortable. Trust me, I’ve been there. But have no fear: you’re in a room of data scientists, and most of us are introverts. Most of us speak “Introvertese.”


You can also meet new people at the conference virtually by using Twitter. The Twitter-verse is very active at SDSC. If you are more comfortable “chatting” with fellow Conference attendees using Twitter, chat away!


No matter how you choose to communicate with fellow Conference attendees, meeting new people at SDSC was one of the highlights of the two-day event in Atlanta this year.



The mere mention of the word “networking” can strike fear into some people at the thought of endless small-talk and sharing of business cards. Networking at SDSC is much more informal. For example, I met a handful of speakers in lunch and coffee break lines at the Conference, and the setting was so informal. You can be as interactive or introspective as you are comfortable with. And if like me, you attended SDSC by yourself, don’t fear. Conference attendees are friendly and welcoming.


Free Stickers and other schwag!

SDSC has corporate sponsors that give conference attendees generous amounts of stickers, pens, and other schwag. Many of the sponsors host information booths that provide schwag and employment information, a win-win if you’re looking for cool stickers, earbuds or hats while also looking for a new job.


If your computer has a dearth of stickers on it, SDSC’s sponsors can help you with that. If you’re looking for career opportunities in the data science field, SDSC’s sponsors can help you with that too. And all conference attendees receive an awesome SDSC t-shirt in a bag filled with other goodies. I proudly wear my Conference t-shirt as often as possible.


Data science is the future (and now)

Today, data sets are everywhere. If you wear a Fitbit, for example, you are generating data every second that you wear that watch on your wrist. More data scientists are needed to transform Fitbit and raw data sets into information that can then be used to generate knowledge.


And that is why people like you (and me) should attend the Southern Data Science Conference. Data science is a field that is here to stay. SDSC allows both established and new speakers to present what they are working on, and how what they do has relevance in the data science field.


If you are curious about the world and how it works, data science is the field for you. And SDSC is the conference for you. I was pleasantly surprised to meet data scientists from across the United States and the globe who attended SDSC in 2018. Even though the “S” in SDSC stands for “southern,” I met people from everywhere.


I have provided only a handful of the many reasons why I attended SDSC 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Share with us by posting your reasons why you decided to attend, or have decided to attend a future SDSC conference.


Welcome to the SDSC family! 


You can follow Paula R. Buchanan on LinkedIn

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