Haaga-Helia MSP’s have been looking for a functional model for the student tech club for a while now and the beginning of October brought about our latest method for getting the WP7 message out there to the students. For this purpose we planned and introduced what we call Haaga-Helia’s Windows Phone Social Club. The name for the club came from our main focus Windows Phone and Social Club from our goal to relay an atmosphere of relaxed and enjoyable free-time activity.
As a method for recruiting people to the club and promoting it, we decided to set up a cool kick-off event to attract and inform people about what we were up to. What we needed was visiting keynotes and some demoing to give a taste of the development environment and the level of stuff we would do in the actual club. In this blogpost I’ll be going through the stuff our mini-seminar was made of and what it took to get it all up and running, and also some lessons learnt.
Me, Drazen and our colleague Tomi Pirhonen went about to plan this event well in advance. We had some options for speakers and thought about some choices for the content of the demo and keynotes. The suggestion for our main keynote actually came from Microsoft and it was Symbio – a Microsoft partner focused on developing mobile applications and software from industrial drivers to mobile gaming.
Jani Nevalainen from Symbio was in fact our first speaker and he made some interesting points as to the future and position of WP7 within the mobile business. He also made some very inspiring remarks about choosing WP7 development as a method for standing out in the constantly changing mobile scene, as it is very possibly the next big thing out there, and now is a great time to get into it. Some of the attendees actually went and asked about employment opportunities over the break and the main message was that taking part in something like our Social Club here is exactly the kind of stuff recruiters are looking for and any experience is greatly valued, especially if it has been voluntary.
The rest of our event was made up of smaller sets to counter the crowds fatigue, as it was getting a bit late in the afternoon at this point. Following the main keynote was a fellow Student Partner Samuli Sulkko who gave an interesting, if a bit speedy overview of HTML5 and the future of web-development and Tomi Pirhonen introducing and reminding people of their MSDN AA-accounts and it’s relevance to this club. Our last actual session was my very compact demo which was actually a bit of a ripoff of Drazen’s map demo over at Assembly 2011. I chose the content of the demo because I think it’s a great demonstration of getting access to some great features so easily and even with my limited technical skills. This proved to be a good approach since the thing people were most worried about the club was if it would be too difficult or high-level stuff. At the end of our event we explained and invited everyone to take part in our club and the evening then continued with the student association Atkins’s game night.
To wrap up with some lessons learnt; the last week before the event was quite stressful. Mostly because we weren’t organized very well and I personally somewhat failed at the promotional stuff. First of all I kept waiting for confirmation about our main keynote and holding off with the posters and ad’s resulted in losing some of the word-of-mouth promotion. I was happy about the amount of people who showed up especially when Haaga-Helia isn’t exactly known for the student’s extra-curricular activity. On the other hand you might think that the aggressive promotion of an event that is a few days away might even work better in some cases than one advertised too much in advance. I guess it’s all about finding the middle road here. I was really happy with our content too and people seemed very interested and the ones I talked to after the event were very curious about the club. Another good thing to consider when organizing stuff like this is to plan well. Divide the tasks amongst the organizers and set deadlines. I would have rather had a too strict schedule than a too relaxed one, helps a lot when you’re kind of an amateur in these things – but hey, you gotta start somewhere!
Jesse (@JesseSanttila) is an IT student at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He loves technology, gadgets, design, punk rock and videogames. He has been lately very excited about the upcoming Finnish startup-scene and brilliant ideas people come up with.