The following IRC discussion is real. There are no actors in this scene – just real .NET devs chatting on random geeky stuff, which got me thinking…


21:45 <@mjeaton> ok, so given a typical DoDN or Code Camp...what about
an "intro track". Have one track (4-5 sessions) dedicated entirely
to beginners...and when I say beginners, I mean OOP 101, SQL 101, etc.
Super basic stuff.
21:45 <+nkohari> that's not a bad idea
21:45 <+nkohari> you'd have to market it correctly though
21:46 <+nkohari> people might be embarrassed to attend a 100-level
track course
21:46 <@sadukie> actually....
21:46 <@sadukie> what about doing a day of 100-level topics for college kids?
21:46 <@sadukie> since .NET isn't really covered well in most
college classrooms, it'd be a good way to expose them to what's out there

When I was in college, I was involved with the professional computing groups and I managed to also get involved with the Toledo Area Linux Users Group. It helped that they had their meetings right on campus, which made it easy for students to attend. However, the only way we had heard about that group was through the flyers throughout South Engineering. It was never mentioned in any classes or extracurricular meetings.

Being the vice president and later the president of the student ACM chapter, I would have loved to team up with the local user groups to get our members a view of what it’s like in the real world. We did mention the linux user group meetings when I was in charge, as the linux group was cool enough to let a Microsoft-based girl like me speak on non-Microsoft topics with only a little ribbing. However, looking at it in retrospect, I think the student group and the linux user group could’ve interacted a lot more then.

Talking with these guys tonight really got me thinking back to those days. I think it would’ve been neat to hear presentations from people in the real world on the Microsoft programming side of things and not just from the LUG. However, if there was a user group for the Microsoft devs back then, we never heard about it, and being in academia, we probably wouldn’t have known to even look for these things called “user groups”. Since our university had some kind of special agreement in place, we had access to Microsoft software at a discounted rate. It would have been nice to meet people who use it in their career so that we could have taken advantage of that benefit better. Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced the aptly named project DreamSpark, which gives students access to software at no charge. (Thanks to Mike for pointing this out to me.) For a user group to reach out to the student population and show them the coolness factors and possibilities with these software packages, the students may be able to take advantage of what they have offered to them. By reaching out to these students, you may also find that they show their 80/20 standings early on – if you reach out early, you may have someone in the 20% stay in the 20% right out of school and wow the community with their talents and innovative ideas.

I think we may have been on to something in our chat. An event of some sort… with 100-level and maybe some 200-level talks… geared to the college kids, so that they know about this thing we have in our world called “community” and the cool and fun things that we can do as developers/architects/DBAs/whatever it is that we do.

I think that this could be pulled off, especially if the community teams up with a student organization – like ACM or IEEE. The student organization should be able to use their ties with the college/university to establish a location for such an event, and we as the community should be able to bring our knowledge and experience to influence them and inspire them. Maybe a Day of .NET College Edition? I’m at a lack for a name, but I think it’s something that we as a community should consider.

We should reach out (to the younger community) and touch (influence/inspire) someone!

(Side note: The title was a slogan of Ohio Bell back when I was a kid many moons ago. It just seemed too appropriate in this case. )