I was awarded the vExpert Program in early March 2018. This was a goal I set out to achieve last year. One of the of many actions I did over the last year to earn the achievement was starting up a blog. It’s a way for me to give back to the vCommunity.
Now is not the time to relax, but to continue contributing as much as time and family will allow. That’s why I’ve decided to continue with the vCommunity and start up a new VMUG chapter in my hometown and volunteer to be a VMUG leader. My hometown is a small town with a population of 40,000. The primary businesses in the community is made of up manufacturing, distribution, and healthcare.
When I first started in IT I was eager and looking to absorb as much information about the industry as possible. I was ready to talk tech with anyone, to ask questions, and exchange stories. I wanted a group that met where we all shared a common technology interest. In a small town, finding a single person with an IT background is difficult. The pure number of engineers in my community is small. I asked around and could not find such a group.
It wasn’t until I changed jobs and started talking with one of my new co-workers. This co-worker was outspoken, an extrovert, and had years of experience. I thought for sure she knew more people than me. Maybe a group that got together?
“Yeah, I started an email group with some of the other IT professionals in the area,” she said.
“I knew it! I knew there was a group out there,” I thought. “But, we hardly talk or get together,” she quickly followed. There went my hope. If SHE couldn’t get people together, how could I?
I stopped looking after that. Feeling deflated, I focused on my hard skills and started a family. I changed jobs a couple of times and got the opportunity to go to tech conferences. I initially went to conferences to sharpen my skills. To learn the latest tech trends and learn about the newest features. Being around like minded people and overhearing general tech chatter everywhere I went, always gave me a natural high. I came back to work energized and eager to upgrade everything to the latest and greatest.
The feeling never lasted long after the conference. The smack of the real world mixed with having to wait another year was too long. Thanks to social media, I was able to reach out and follow similar tech discussions. This is also where I heard about user groups and local meetups.
These are small groups, sometimes in a specific community, having tailored discussions around technology versus new products and features. Where members can ask questions and be engaged with the speakers. To have the opportunity to sit down with industry leaders and get their unfiltered opinions on specific topics.
I’ve had the chance to go to a number of these local meetups and user conferences. My personal network expanded because people are more approachable in these smaller settings. People are there with the same goal as you. To ask questions, learn from each other, and listen to what did or did not work. It look me a long time to find out that these groups existed.
That’s why I’m bringing this to my community. I want people to have a meeting place where they can listen to other’s and their experiences. To contribute when they are ready. To expand their own network, and to have a place where they can sharpen both hard and soft skills. To hopefully make everyone better.