Coming Face To Face With An IBM i Recruit
August 18, 2014 Dan Burger
What might you expect to find at the COMMON Fall Conference, which is coming up October 27 through 29 in Indianapolis? How about college students searching for jobs with companies invested in IBM i? If all goes as planned, there may be 20 or more attending the conference with eyes wide open and expectations set high. IBM i shops, IBM i ISVs, and business partners could use this trip to Indiana as an opportunity for recruitment.
If I may be so bold, let me suggest you make recruitment a priority. Not necessarily because you have an empty chair in the IT department that needs to be filled ASAP, although that is certainly a good reason. But many businesses are going to need to replenish the workforce and it will likely be sooner rather than later. A face-to-face recruiting trip to meet graduates or soon-to-be graduates who have IBM i knowledge is a rare opportunity. Whether you do the hiring or have some influence on the hiring, this shouldn’t be overlooked. Right now is a good time to make a plan for assessing IT candidates who are a better fit for your organization than can be recruited in your city or region.
Traditionally the students who attend COMMON are from Midwestern colleges in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, where the IBM i curriculum has some teeth and energetic IBM i advocates are either teaching or are closely connected to the colleges.
Laura Ubelhor, president of the Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group (SEMiUG) and assistant executive director of the COMMON Education Foundation (CEF), believes many IBM i shops struggle to build IT resources or replace the resources they are losing. “We need to get young people involved with the platform and with the community,” she says.
Ubelhor and CEF executive director Michelle August spearhead the effort to bring students to the spring and fall COMMON conferences. August is also a professor at Moraine Valley Community College in suburban Chicago.
The COMMON Education Foundation works in conjunction with IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative (PSAI) to expand and enhance midrange education in colleges and universities. The PSAI has been contributing $5,000 to the CEF to assist with the expenses related to student travel to the two COMMON conferences.
Peter Glass, program manager for the Power Systems Academic Initiative, says the value in bringing college students to IBM related events is easily understood.
“At COMMON, students get the opportunity to network with IBM clients, IBMers and other industry experts resulting in a better understanding of the IBM corporation and our products,” Glass says. “That’s important to us because these students will someday be leaders and decision makers in the workplace.”
The CEF solicits other contributions designated for this program as well.
Maxava, the IBM i high availability and disaster recovery vendor, has been a generous and consistent contributor. The company set up the iFoundation, which makes grants to not-for-profit organizations that promote the IBM i platform and support the exchange of knowledge, skills, and ideas about the IBM i platform. The iFoundation has contributed $2,000 in grant money to the CEF in support of this project.
Additional contributions are being sought by the COMMON Education Foundation. Typically there are a half dozen or so IBM i ISVs that participate, but the student demand exceeds the available funding. The program could grow if the funding was in place.
For additional details regarding contributions to this program, or for details related to student participation, contact Michelle August at Michelle_August@common.org.