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General FAQs

TL;DR: Monthly community events about using AWS.

Is this run by Amazon?
No, we are not run by AWS. We are proudly user-run and user-led. Amazon employees occasionally present and attend but must also follow speaker guidelines. We prefer presentations on lessons learned, tips, and demos.

When/where are events?
In-person events are generally in the evening in the Loop during the week. We rotate host offices and topics but aim for consistent schedules of pizza/drinks around 5pm, introductions and sponsor spots, 2 to 3 quality non-sales presentations, then wrap with q&a before the crowd dwindles around 8pm.

Virtual events are either during the workday for short discussions or in the evening for longer presentations. All virtual events require sign-up and are hosted on Zoom.

How do I become a member?
Just show up to an event! All RSVPs and tickets are run through Meetup. We do collect attendee names for building check in at most venues, but will never share your information.

How many people will be there?
Our member list has grown to 5,000. In-person events usually bring 60-80 attendees at each event, while virtual events have 5-40 attendees.

What are the rules?
Be excellent to each other (see our full Code of Conduct) and be open minded.
As a local community group we do NOT offer speaker slots in return for sponsorship and we do NOT ever sell contact details of attendees.

Stay connected!

Sponsor FAQs

TL;DR: Get 5 minutes at the beginning of the night in exchange for paying for pizza and drinks.

What does it cost?
Prices will vary based on attendee turnout. For example, with over 80 attendees pizzas cost about $500 and beer/pop/ice costs about $350.

What comes with an AWS sponsorship?

  • Many thanks, and hopefully a very good feeling of helping the community.
  • Logo on all the day-of slides
  • A quick "shout out" / thank you at the beginning of the user group meeting recognizing your company's support
  • 5 min between the intros and presentations to give a quick “elevator pitch” overview of what your company does, positions you are hiring, and/or a short live demo
  • Option to set up a banner display, hand out brochures, and/or give away freebies at in-person events.

Can I get a list of attendee names/emails/companies?
NO. We will never provide the personal information of any of our group members to anyone without permission. If a building requires a list of attendees, the organizers will share with the security desk directly. Sponsors are welcome to collect leads on their own (i.e., offer a prize for people providing contact details). Non-sponsor companies and recruiters cannot solicit attendees at user group events.

Can I get a slot for my company/customer/colleague if we sponsor?
NO. We do not allow commercial or product centric presentation slots.

How do I pay for the sponsorship?
Pay vendors directly or have the organizers do the ordering. If organizers order for you it will be pizzas from Beggars and drinks from Binny's/Instacart. Organizers can invoice you after the event via PayPal and credit card.

What are the group demographics?
Group members are locals who choose to spend a few hours between work and home to learn more and stay involved in the local tech community. Most are software developers, sysadmins, ops, engineers, and some consultants from companies big and small. Events are free and open to all. We welcome AWS users from all backgrounds and any experience level.

I'm ready to sponsor. What next?
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thanks again for your support of the AWS user group and the Chicago Tech Community!

Speaker FAQs

TL;DR: 30 min of non-sales talk, as technical as you dare.

Are group attendees technical?
Yes. AWS Chicagoans are active Amazon cloud users, and appreciate technical topics. We are AWS users in Chicago who work with AWS. The group is not run by, funded by, or part of AWS. We have strict no sales pitch rules.
Because there are so many services across AWS, we recommend a quick overview of each service/tool before jumping into it. Experience varies from beginners and college students to business leaders.

What are talk formats and timing?
We try to have 2-3 talks at about 30-45 min each with some time for questions at the end. If talks might overlap organizers will intro folks to coordinate topics.
Aim for a 30 min talk, and we can leave more time for questions and general mingling before/after. We like to bookend time for people to show up (around 5pm in person) then give time for people to grab late trains home.

What should I talk about?
We strongly enforce the "no sales pitch" rules for the group. We don't allow commercial or product-centric presentation slot, so mentioning your company/product is fine but please limit it to setting up context. Beyond that, the content is all yours. Demos and code-on-screen are the most popular topics, followed by “here’s what I learned” talks. If you’re ok with it, we like to share slides with the group after the event
Here are past talk examples:

What should I bring? Do you need slides before?
This should be a low-key presentation. Do not worry about sending slides before the event. Usually it is easiest for presenters to share slides directly from their laptops via HDMI or a video conference tool. Each venue is different so come early to test it out. Please do share slides after the event for user group members - either link or email slides to organizers.

A/V set up:
Our locations change but usually hosts do have microphones, projectors and screens/large TVs, podiums, mac dongles, and HDMI/VGA cables. Organizers try to come prepared with extra dongles as well. If you need something like wifi for a live demo, hardwired internet, etc. please let us know at least 24hrs before.
For virtual events and some in-person events we will ask you if we can record videos of talks. If you are NOT ok with that, let us know before we begin.

To be propose a talk idea, just fill in the submission form or drop us an email.
For the event page, email your talk information in this fill-in-the-blanks: "TALK TITLE" - NAME, TITLE at COMPANY // @TWITTER

Hosting FAQs

TL;DR: Fit 100 of us in your office.

What is required to host in-person events for the AWS user group?
Required: space must fit at least 100, screens and amplification (projector or a large TV or screen with microphones), and space for food/drinks. We really like spaces that provide: HDMI or other connecting cables, gender-neutral restrooms, and a check in system that does not require government IDs. Ideally, the space should be an open area with a section for talks with seating and screens with access to bathrooms and a place to put food and drinks. See our photos from GrubHub, TechNexus, and Motorola Solutions.

How many people will be there?
In-person events usually get 300 RSVPs but 60-100 attendees. As the event approaches, we will send out reminders so folks will update their RSVP to get a more accurate number.

Virtual events attract 5-40 people. We prefer to host on Zoom and only record presentations, not open discussions.

How will presentations work?
Typically 3-4 presenters bring their own laptops and present directly. Extra mics and connecting cables/dongles help. Some presenters might need hardwired ethernet or special set ups. We will let you know of any requests in advance.

Can I host without sponsoring food and drink?
Yes! We have several user group members who want to sponsor, but do not have the office space to host. Let us know and we will match you up with a sponsor.

My building has security. How should we deal?
We hope check in does not require legal IDs. We are happy to share a list of attendees' registration names. We ask buildings check names against multiple types of IDs to be more inclusive for international and non-binary members. If you need specific attendee information or a list before the day of please let us know and we can include questions in registration, alert members, and plan for extra check-in time.

What are hosts responsible for?
We need our hosts to help us with day-of set up and planning. Please help attendees find your offices, navigate check in with the building, and find the bathrooms. Signs or staff to point the way always help. We also need your help receiving deliveries for pizza, drinks, and set up.

Event FAQs

TL;DR: Get on the list to attend

What is required to attend?
The user group aims to always provide free, accessible events for all levels of AWS users. Depending on the building, virtual platform, or offices hosting us we usually require members to register at least 24 hours before the event and check in at building security.

How do I register for events?
The user group uses Meeetup to manage registration and event reminders.

Can I check if I'm registered for an event?
Check your email and view your tickets/registration on the Meetup website.

How do I cancel/refund my ticket?
For in-person events we do have limited space and need an accurate headcount to order food and drinks. Please update your RSVP if you cannot attend. on Meeetup.

The website says registration is closed for the next event. Can I still attend?
In-person events require registration information for building security 24 hours before the event starts. If it is less than 24 hours before the event, we cannot accept new registrations. For virtual events, make sure you're viewing the Meetup event page.