I had it all ready to go. The blog for today was all written. And then … Well, it’s delayed for a week. Oh, dear readers, let me tell you. Next week’s blog will have so much to talk about, it may take two or three days to cover it all. That is, if I can find time to write it while I’m in Prague. But, the point is, the topic I had planned for today isn’t ready.
So now what?
That’s easy. I want to discuss the next generation of IBM i users and developers.
A few weeks back, when I spoke at the WMCPA Spring Conference, I had the chance to meet Jim Buck. Jim teaches at Gateway Technical College, and he’s been helping turn out new users and programmers for IBM i for a long time. One way in which IBM works to encourage the growth of new IBM i skills is through the Academic Initiative (AI). In fact, that’s how I first came to hear of Jim Buck and Gateway. They’re one of many on AI’s long list of schools that teach IBM i in their curriculum.
I talked to Jim ahead of the conference and asked if there was a chance I could speak with any of his students while I was at the conference. Jim made it happen.
After my keynote presentation completed, a group of about 15 students and recent graduates joined me in a conference room and we talked with each other. OK, I probably talked more than they did, but I was very interested to hear how each of them got connected to IBM i and to the academic program at Gateway, and what they thought about the career they were heading towards, or just beginning. It was a fascinating and fun conversation.
I look for chances to interact with people who are newer to IBM i. For a few years now, I’ve been an adjunct member of the YiPs (Young i Professionals), which is a group of, well, I bet you can guess. This group doesn’t discriminate--even if some members are younger, they accept those of us who aren’t as young. What binds them together is a passion for using IBM i in new, modern ways, and helping people who are new to the platform get the information they need. They started as a group at COMMON, they’ve made trips to many conferences and local user groups, and they create and sponsor information on using IBM i in modern ways, including providing a sandbox for implementing open-source projects on the IBM i platform that hosts their site.
Meeting new members to the IBM i community is always energizing. I encouraged the Gateway students to connect with other YiPs through their site, and by attending other local user groups, and especially trying to attend COMMON’s annual conference, if they can.
As I talk with students at Academic Initiatives schools, such as Gateway, one of the questions I’m sure to hear is whether there are jobs out there for people with IBM i skills. I assure them there must be, because I also hear from our long-time customers that they want to find people with IBM i skills. I don’t know what it takes to put these two groups of people together, but we do have a suggestion we make to customers who express frustration about lack of new talent: Talk to local schools. Start with the list on the Academic Initiative website. Create internship opportunities. Let those schools know what kinds of skills you require from their graduates. We, within the IBM community, are trying to help schools get the material they need to teach their students. The best way for businesses to nurture young talent is to work with those schools. And if there’s no local school on the AI list, make contact at the school and with the AI team here at IBM (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
So, until next week, I hope each of you can get to know someone who’s newer to IBM i than you are. They're out there. And they want to learn from you.
Twitter: #ibmi @Steve_Will_IBMi