Say Hello To Your New IT Hire
November 3, 2014 Dan Burger
The COMMON Education Foundation and the IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative, along with a group of IBM i ISVs and members of the IBM i community combined efforts to bring 24 college students to the Fall COMMON Conference in Indianapolis last week. That’s the most students that have ever attended a COMMON conference and a trend that should continue.
COMMON and the IBM i community in general benefit from increased participation from a decidedly youthful audience. It makes a noticeable difference at the conference, which is good for everyone involved, but the greater good is accomplished by bringing together organizations that can make use of young IBM i talent and the students looking for their first jobs in enterprise-level IT.
Throughout the three-day conference, the students had multiple opportunities to engage with community members, COMMON session instructors/subject matter experts, and COMMON board members at planned events and various activities, including the educational sessions.
This is the most visible sign of a pipeline of young IBM i talent that I am aware of, and I’ve been following this since the days when some of these students were in diapers. In past articles (see a list at the end of this article), I’ve encouraged companies that are investing in staff to attend COMMON to meet these students and connect with some of the schools that are still teaching IBM i skills.
Colleges that participated in this include: Arkansas Technical University, the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Muskegon Community College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Ferris State University, Gateway Community College, and Baker College.
Bringing the students to the conference is largely the work of CEF president Michelle August and vice president Laura Ubelhor. Darlene Rose, who represents the Power Systems Academic Initiative, also deserves credit. They have made this work for students, for COMMON, and for the community.
The COMMON Fall conference is becoming the preferred conference for this type of student/community interaction. There are a few factors involved with this. One is that the interest on the part of participating colleges is Midwest based and the Fall COMMON conference is typically in a Midwest location. COMMON makes this decision to reduce the cost of travel and lodging. This plan works well for the companies sending staff for new skills training and is appreciated by the students and colleges for the same economic reasons. The other option, which is the Annual COMMON Meeting and Exposition in the spring, rubs up against final exams for many college students, making it an inconvenient time to travel.
While student participation at the spring COMMON conference is expected to be light, that event is expected to draw some students from Southern California (the event is in Anaheim) and the CEF will help defray the costs of travel and lodging.
CEF was able to raise almost $15,000 (also a new high water mark), which allowed 24 students to participate at the conference that occurred last week. A similar amount raised for the fall will not likely pay the way for as many students due to increased travel and lodging expenses.
Organizations and individuals that donated to the CEF fund-raising effort include: the IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative, Maxava, ProData Computer Services, iTech Solutions Group, Alan Seiden Consulting, Charles Guarino, HelpSystems, the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professionals Association, Consultech, Kevin Mort, Linoma Software, Agile Technology Architects, Arbor Solutions, Leo Whitaker, John Valence, Zend Technologies, Velocity Technology Solutions, and Kim Greene Consulting.