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August 26, 2009

Changing The Future

Channel@Work was really an amazing program. Kudos to all the folks who really made it happen!

Last week, I had the good fortune to attend CMP’s XChange’09 event in Washington, DC. As a vendor-centric show, this kind of event gives solution providers like my company the opportunity to see new offerings from various vendors, give feedback, and forge business relationships that can mutually benefit our companies.

But this year, one of the initiatives taking place during XChange’09 really made me, and a whole lot of others, sit up and take notice.

CMP Media partnered with Microsoft and the Framsyn Initiative to sponsor Channel@Work, a program that sponsored a large group of young people from all over the country who expressed an interest in IT careers to attend XChange. The goal was to give them an opportunity to be mentored by industry veterans, and give them a boost into the IT field.

The boardroom I was assigned to for vendor appointments was located directly across the hall from the Channel@Work workroom. The level of hardware they were working with was really impressive. Plus, they all got to keep the machines they built. 

Activities included team-building, computer-building, direct interaction with executives from IT companies, and the ability to engage with the rest of us delegates. At breakfast one morning, I got a chance to talk with a young man named Che. He told me about his job as a junior network administrator, the kinds of things he’s learned how to do from that job, and his goals for the future. I talked to him about the importance of keeping both his resume and skillset current, of picking and choosing certification exams that give the most options for huim in the future, and the importance of learning not just a given product release, but really understanding the underlying concept about how and why something works.

As part of this program, these young people were working toward completing Microsoft’s 70–653 exam TS: Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuring, which earns not only an MCTS, but also a Small Business Specialist designation. Both of those achievements will immediately give those young people value to potential solution provider employers like me who focus on the SMB segment.

When the video above was played during the ARC awards dinner on the final evening of XChange’09, I was literally moved to tears. Seeing those kids so eager to learn and hungry for knowledge took me back to when I first started my IT career, and it made me remember how thankful I was and still am to all the people who first believed in me and gave me an opportunity in the industry, within which I’ve thrived for the last 15 years.

I truly believe that if the IT industry is to improve as a whole, it will come from mentoring programs like Channel@Work and others like it convincing young people that an IT career is one that can offer them the kind of fulfilling, rewarding life’s work that we all hope to find, and giving them the initial opportunity to find success.

|| posted by chris under business, freebie, hardware, it pro, media, more cowbell, nostalgia, rx, shoutout, thumbs up, travel, webcast || comments (4) || ||


  1. Amazing, I’m so excited to have been a part of the Future Tech Leaders Program.

    comment by Robert MacKenzie — August 26, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  2. These people, kids and teachers, are all HEROES!

    I hope they go for a career in IT, now or later on in life. I always tell them that it is never too late, the entry barrier is very low compared to other industries. Just a few weeks of training and you could start, of course you need to keep working at it to grow your skills but IT will give you a break if you need one. That goes for girls and boys!

    I’m moved to see these kids go for it and the teachers rock!

    comment by Tjeerd Veninga — August 26, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  3. Great job Chris thank you so much for spotligting such an amazing video. Young people are truly our hope for the future and by creating and supporting programs like this organizations like Microsoft and Everything Channel are helping the future come today.

    comment by Dino White — August 27, 2009 @ 12:06 am

  4. Absolutely. Mentoring is probably the best learning experience for neophytes of any trade.

    And we should not forget that systems administration is primarily a trade, for which the apprentice-journeyman-master model is still very applicable.

    This is where professional associations such as LOPSA, SAGE, SAGE-IE and SAGE-AU help play a role, by offering members the ability to learn from one another, develop skills on multiple platforms and act as a peak body for systems administrators in their respective jurisdictions.

    As you said, learning a product and process doesn’t help you develop the lateral thinking skills needed to analyse the root cause and come up with an effective, lasting solution.

    comment by Chris Knight — August 27, 2009 @ 6:06 am

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