Reader Feedback On Coming Face To Face With An IBM i Recruit
September 8, 2014 Hey, Dan
I wanted you to know that I thought your article, Coming Face to Face with an IBM i Recruit (The Four Hundred August 14, 2014) was excellent. We, the aging IBM i faithful, need to seek out and help the next generation join the ranks of employed IBM i professionals.
I am an Omni User (greater Chicago area local user group) board member, and we are making an effort to work with Michelle August and Moraine Valley Community College. In fact, Omni is holding its annual technical conference (September 5 and 6) at Moraine Valley. I am hopeful that getting these IBM i students networking with our user group will result in employment.
It’s good to hear that you and the Omni User organization are taking a greater interest in developing a meaningful relationship with a local community college. There are only a few areas that I know of where IBM i local user groups have these affiliations. The Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professions, the Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group, and the Toronto User Group are the ones that come to mind. I’d like to see a lot more of this grassroots activity from the IBM i community. The COMMON Education Foundation and COMMON itself are both involved; however, those efforts are largely dependent on people connected to the above-mentioned local user groups. The IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative and a small number of IBM I independent software vendors (ISVs) have been supportive as well.
Where there is a cooperative effort between local user groups and community colleges, one of the most common student benefits is free or discounted access to local user group meetings and conferences and the networking opportunities that come with that. Typically, for this to be effective there needs to be a solid bond between the local user group and an instructor at the community college who provides the encouragement to students. That encouragement sometimes includes the opportunity for internships and full-time positions, which mean corporate members of the local user groups need to participate. Ramping up that level of participation is one of the keys to success in the instances where local user groups and community colleges have a strong connection. It seems to be the biggest challenge and the weakest link in the chain in areas where the IBM i community is disconnected with the educational institutions.
In my mind, this all revolves around job opportunities. If you can round up IBM i shops that are committed to hiring computer science graduates with some IBM i education, the value of user group-community college partnership becomes apparent.