Education Foundation Airlifts Students To COMMON
April 14, 2014 Dan Burger
Education has been the traditional pathway to opportunity, but this pathway doesn’t begin and end in classrooms. It’s more than classrooms. It’s more than textbooks and homework and tests. As many in the IT profession have discovered, the connection between education and career is enhanced by being part of a community. In the IBM i community, the COMMON user group plays an important role in career development through education. And the connection between education and career begins with a separate organization called the COMMON Education Foundation (CEF).
Bringing IT students to the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition is one of the out-of-classroom experiences that CEF has been eager to implement. It has programs established for both the spring and fall COMMON conferences as well as promoting the idea at annual tech conferences hosted by local user groups. At the COMMON conference coming up May 4 through 7 in Orlando, Florida, CEF has four students attending on “scholarships” that pay for conference registration, lodging and a portion of the transportation costs. The number of students attending is lower than is usual because the timing of COMMON overlaps finals week (or the week preceding finals) at many schools.
Already 10 students are in line to attend the fall COMMON conference October 27 through 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the CEF is hoping that number will double.
In addition to student scholarships, there are also scholarships for college-level instructors so they can add to their knowledge of Power Systems, IBM i, the vendors and the user community.
The scholarships are provided by the CEF from a fund that relies on contributions from IBM and the IBM i ISV community. So far this year, the fund has more than $9,000. The IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative leads the list with a $5,000 donation and IBM i high availability and disaster recovery vendor Maxava contributed $2,000. Also supporting this program are IBM i software vendors Velocity Technology Solutions, Zend Technologies, ProData Computer Services, and Profound Logic. Consultants and consulting companies adding financial support include Arbor Solutions, Consultech, iTech Solutions Group, Charles Guarino, and Alan Seiden, plus IBM Systems Magazine.
“Organizations have been quick to help out and they understand this is something critical,” says CEF spokesperson Laura Ubelhor, who not only volunteers for the CEF but also finds time to volunteer as president of the Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group. “What we have will cover the students coming to Orlando and we’ll have some extra to put toward students coming to Indianapolis in the fall, but we hope to bring in additional funds during the COMMON conference in just a few weeks in Florida.”
A new addition to the CEF website features a secure procedure for making donations to the scholarship fund using a credit card. That convenience is expected to help build the fund.
The topic of bringing young people to IBM i environments is always close at hand whenever a user group meeting takes place. For companies looking for new talent to add to their staffs, this is a good time of year to contact the CEF and the colleges that participate in the IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative. Graduations are imminent. Both the CEF and the PSAI will have booths at the COMMON conference. Stop in and get acquainted, so when you are ready for hiring you know who to contact.
“We do need to get younger resources involved in the platform,” Ubelhor told IT Jungle last week. “It’s been kind of a struggle for a lot of organizations to connect with and find younger resources. When we bring students to events, like COMMON, we get them involved in the community.”
Remember what it felt like to graduate from college and get that career starter job?