Guest Blogger – Laura Ubelhor
Read Part 1 of this series in the December 2018 issue of COMMON.CONNECT.
Local User Groups
When looking for recruits, don’t overlook local user groups. There are many local IBM i user groups across the country, bringing together community members and students. They provide opportunities such as student activities, competitions, and local conferences. Events often feature students and a career information exchange.
Because user groups encourage student growth and introduce the foundations needed for a strong IT career, they are great to reach out to when looking for new IT talent. If you don’t have a group in your local area, it is still worth finding one nearby. Often meetings and activities are made available through WebEx, allowing members to join remotely.
If you are starting from ground zero, a great start is to take one or more of the actions on this list:
- Reach out to board members
- Sign up for notifications
- Join as a user group member
- Participate in and/or encourage group student activities
- Engage with other user groups
- Request to have a job posted on the group site and/or featured within group correspondence
- Sponsor student attendance at meetings or conferences
Being involved allows you to not only foster the next generation but to also position yourself to scout out future talent.
A local user group can come into play when connecting with local colleges. User groups greatly appreciate suggestions, so don’t be afraid to reach out and suggest a meet-and-greet, networking event, or other student focused activity. Examples of student activities held by the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group (SEMIUG) include a competition where students coded a game using any tool that was found on IBM i. Another activity involved group members submitting real projects. Students then teamed up with community members to work on these projects, with the winning submission used in an organization’s production environment. We also awarded cash prizes to attract and excite students. An upcoming event planned to kick off in February 2019 includes Watson technology. It is a great way to connect and to provide a great learning experience for everyone while generating wonderful buzz within the community.
Even if you can’t actively become involved in a user group, don’t overlook local conference events. Many groups host events that invite students, and they need sponsors. For example, SEMIUG has an annual sponsored conference called MITEC. During this event, we provide an informal student meet-and-greet, providing organizations an opportunity to connect with students and local schools. The event has grown to be a great option for local organizations looking to hire. We have had significant results, finding that students are ready and seeking opportunities. Often local organizations walk away with new employees. One organization attending our event has found great success, hiring four new student team members to fill vacant positions and replace retiring employees.
Pictures speak a thousand words. The above images show students participating at the MITEC conference. This event is not one of a kind; many other events have similar offerings and goals.
Becoming active in user groups and attending their events with enthusiasm is a great way to start getting to know a potential employee due to the opportunity for networking with students. Often at the events, student attendance is sponsored. Taking the opportunity to sponsor a student is a great way to show support and pique the interest of students seeking jobs, possibly with your company. COMMON is the largest IBM i user group within the U.S. At COMMON’s Fall Conference, many students attend thanks to sponsors and the COMMON Education Foundation. So there is a great opportunity within our own organization to connect with potential recruits. Don’t close the door on national events to seek out student talent as many are ready and willing to relocate for the right opportunity.
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.