Next Generation - Part 4


Tree hands

CEF (COMMON Education Foundation)

CEF is a group within the IBM i community that supports students interested in pursuing IT careers. This organization should not be overlooked when looking for new employees. CEF’s mission provides insight:

As technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate, so does the demand for IT professionals. This growing need presents an unprecedented opportunity for students to embark on an educational track to prepare them for a professional career in Information Technology.

The COMMON Education Foundation (CEF) is providing pathways to engage and educate a new generation of IT talent. One of CEF’s primary missions is to nurture the development and growth of future IT professionals who will manage and support the computing systems of tomorrow. CEF’s strategy is to encourage students and individuals (including those who have business experience and are considering career changes) to seek careers in the information technology industry, while providing them with supplementary educational opportunities along the way.

CEF has a lot of offerings, including:

  • Student Sponsorship
  • Educator Sponsorship
  • Student Scholarship

Student Sponsorship

Students are provided an opportunity to attend the fall COMMON conference through CEF sponsorship. Having students at COMMON events is a win for everyone. Students are rewarded with an opportunity to learn, connect with community members, and get a glimpse at what a potential career utilizing IBM i technology has to offer. Students go back to their local communities enthused and excited to share their experience. Their attendance also goes a long way in connecting students with potential employers. Community members are excited to see fresh faces ready, willing, and able to step forward as the next generation in the field. Community members looking to hire can also make invaluable connections with schools and educators.

Educator Sponsorship

CEF also offers sponsorship opportunities for educators to attend COMMON events. Educators attend sessions, connect with the IT community, and much more. This goes a very long way in helping keep current IBM i curriculum within schools. While attending COMMON events, educators make numerous and invaluable connections. Attending also provides them the opportunity to learn new skills which they can then take back into classroom. This helps prepare students for the workforce.

Student Scholarship

CEF provides student scholarships that are awarded annually. Students apply by filling out an application. The scholarship winner receives funding to help further their education. Throughout the years, CEF has provided scholarship funding for many students studying IT curriculum.

Ongoing Initiatives

The CEF community has many ongoing initiatives to keep encouraging students to pursue IT careers and connect with potential employers. To help raise funds, they hold numerous fundraising activities throughout the year. A favorite among the IT community is the silent auction held at the annual COMMON conference. Members have grown to look forward to the auction and it is a great fundraiser for CEF. Other initiatives include student sponsored contests, raffles at events, merchandise sales, and much more. The community support throughout the years has encouraged the growth of CEF and, with it, the opportunity to bring fresh faces to the work force.

CEF has long been a great friend to the IT community, connecting educators and students with potential employers while building up the next generation. CEF is a nonprofit organization and is always looking for volunteers. Making the effort to volunteer is both fulfilling and productive. Doing so provides opportunity to give back and in return you’re provided much more.



CEF has a lot of resources to offer the community including students, educators and those within the community interested in the future employees. Some of the resources CEF offers include:

  • Career Center
  • COMMON Certification
  • Online Education
  • Video Library
  • Blog                   CEF Logo
  • Partners
  • IBM Academic Initiative
  • Community
  • Connect with Educators and Students
  • Fall COMMON Event
  • Annual COMMON Event
  • Booth at Events
  • Student Sessions and Activities

CEF Fall Conference

CEF Fall Conference

What started with a few students sponsored at COMMON conference events
has grown to a large group each fall.

Support CEF

  • Sponsor a Student
  • Provide a Contribution
  • Contribute to the Silent Auction
  • Volunteer

If you are looking to fill positions don’t overlook CEF. The group has a lot to offer and is a hidden gem. Don’t hesitate to connect. You’ll benefit greatly by doing so. Whether your actively looking or planning, connect with COMMON Education Foundation and consider volunteering or supporting the foundation through initiatives or making a donation. CEF is an anchor ensuring that we do have a next generation on IBM i.

Contact COMMON Education Foundation

Laura Ubelhor Headshot

Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.