Session Suggestions from a Young i Professional


2019 Fall Conference & Expo - Indianapolis

As a young i professional, I have found that attending conferences is both a daunting and exhilarating experience. You usually feel more exhilaration from all the learning than you do daunted by the experience of trying to find sessions that will be a challenge for you while also at a level where you can understand the concepts that were thrown at you.

Unfortunately, you have to figure out which sessions to take before you can feel the exhilaration of education. I am hoping to ease a little bit of that stress and point out several sessions that would be good to attend if you are just starting your career or are new to the platform.

All speakers’ work hard to provide good content and one of the hardest parts of that job is to decide at what level you wish to teach. Do you keep it at a beginner level, intermediate, or advanced? Or do you try and cross all levels of knowledge? As a speaker myself, I tend to try and cover all levels of expertise by beginning the session with the basics before moving to more advanced information. This way the session has a progression to it.

In most cases, developers today are not just focused on the native languages to the IBM i. There are several shops that have you mixing the languages, or your expertise is in those languages but now you are being tasks to integrate with the IBM i. If this describes you, I would recommend these sessions:

From a developer’s perspective, having knowledge of SQL is a must! And, Birgitta Hauser has a series of great sessions you should attend. As someone who has attended several of her sessions for a few years now, she is an enjoyable speaker to listen to. Her session on Embedded SQL an Introduction is a must, even if it’s just to hear her present. My own SQLRPGLE the Better File Access is also a good one if you want to see what record level access vs. embedded SQL looks like.

All developers know that tooling is extremely important for you to fulfill your day-to-day jobs. Have you been given tooling you are not familiar with? Here are a couple of sessions that should help you out given by excellent speakers: Charles Guarinos – Debugging with RDI from the on ramp to the cruising lane will help you immensely in debugging RPG code regardless of the level. Tim Rowe’s session – On the Best of ACS, will help you use ACS in a much more efficient way.

Another important part of today’s development process is source control, unit testing, and standards. Git for open source and source control given by Stephanie Rabbini is a must. If you are looking at unit testing your RPG programs or procedures, then attend my Unit Test RPG using IBMiUnit. If you’re wanting to look at how we handle standards, and get some ideas for your shop, then attend my Programming Standards and Guidelines.

Hopefully these session recommendations help you plan out your conference experience and ease some of the uncertainty of which session to attend. I’ll see you in Indianapolis for another great conference! 

Editor's Note: If you are looking for more YiPs recommendations for intro level sessions, you’re in luck! There is a Young i Professionals Picks category offered on the Online Session Guide. Check it out and get some inside pointers from your peers.

Headshot of Marina Schwenk

Marina Schwenk started her career in January 2015 at Everbrite LLC in Greenfield WI after graduating from Gateway Technical College in May of 2014 with an Associate’s degree in IT Software Development. Marina works as a developer in both RPG and Java and she also is one of two junior IBM i admins at Everbrite. Marina earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems Software Development from Bellevue University in June of 2017. She is currently working on her Master’s degree program in Computer Information Systems Software development, with the goal of teaching part time, and empowering the younger generation. Marina is also a member of the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association, Women in IT committee and has recently started speaking on a couple of topics, ranging from RPG to SQL. She has completed one open source project and is currently working on releasing iUnit an open source RPG unit testing framework written in RPGLE.

Favorite Hobbies: I love to read, deep/analytical thinking, music, cooking, walking deep in the woods or along the beach and traveling.

Fun fact about you: I almost did not end up in IT. I really wanted to become a FBI profiler and really wanted to go that direction, until for my family’s sake, I changed my mind. After that it took me a while to choose between my many passions which was helping people (Social work), anything medical, anything scientific, English writer and IT. I decided on programming because I wanted to understand/contribute to the logic that run’s today’s applications and in that process, I also fell in love with the admin side of things so I currently have the best of both worlds.

Favorite tool within IBM i platform: Rdi, and ACS hands down. I would rather develop RPG using RDI any day and I absolutely love ACS.

Number of years on the platform: 4.5

What is YiPs? 

Standing for “Young i Professionals,” YiPs is a group geared towards newcomers to the platform of IBM i. Open to those who are fresh from college as well as those who have made a career change, the group offers support, networking opportunities, and education. For more information, visit the YiPs on LinkedIn.