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Back in 2002, as a Junior DBA, I was informed by the senior DBAs I worked with that I MUST become part of my regional user group, (RMOUG). This was considered a requirement for any educated Database Administrator or Developer of the time and as those who I respected instructed, I became a member and attended my first Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group Training Days in February, 2003. I was impressed with the level of technical content of the sessions, the opportunity to network with others in my local Oracle community and that I was able to take the new knowledge I had learned and apply it to my job immediately. I was appreciative of the advice I’d been offered by my fellow DBAs and rest assured, shared this tip with others in the community as my career progressed.
By 2008, it was recommended that I begin to present after starting my first iteration of the DBA Kevlar blog and although not what you would call an impressive session, (as happens with many, I bombed my first ever presentation) but didn’t give up and improved as I gained experience.
In 2011, I approached Tim Gorman and Ron Bich, making them aware that I had time that I would like to volunteer to RMOUG, (I didn’t let anyone know at the time I had the time as my divorce was fast approaching, which ended up benefiting Tim Gorman extensively, but that’s another story… :)) I felt the organization had given so much to me and as my children were older, it was time to offer some of that time and energy back to the community. Tim talked me into submitting a campaign statement to the board of directors and I’ve been part of this organization ever since, starting out as the Membership/Vendor Director, creating the Social Media Director position and for the last three years, the Training Days Conference Director. RMOUG was insightful enough to ensure that even though I’m now with Oracle, moved me to a board member emeritus, which allowed me to continue to contribute to the community and while eliminate my voting, which is something Oracle employees are not allowed to do as part of an Oracle user group board, (note to those that have avoided putting hard working Oracle employees in spots on board of directors, it can be done and don’t waste these valuable resources, folks.)
A board position is one of service, not of privilege. You shouldn’t look to gaining a board position because you want special privileges or opportunities. You are there to volunteer your time and service to the community, plain and simple. I have the support of my manager at Oracle, Pramod Chowbey, which is something to be recognized and rewarded when a company supports volunteerism and communities. It’s not about what RMOUG can do for Oracle, but what Oracle feels that they need to offer to the user groups community. My manager understands that when I’m wearing my RMOUG hat, there mustn’t be any conflict with my Oracle employment, (assisted by a conflict of interest form signed each year and a whistle blower policy to ensure that this is followed to the letter…) I am here for the membership, which includes the hours volunteered towards this great user community. The membership need the time and support of the volunteers who run this great organization. It also can’t exist without the support of its members. If the members don’t invest in the user group, there is no way for it to survive.
So here is my challenge to you: wherever you are, whatever area of Oracle you specialize in- find your regional Oracle user group and become a member. Pay dues, attend events and contribute your time. I hear from so many that say, “Oh, I’ll go next time” or “It’s not like they’ll miss me.”
Yes, yes they will. With so many free events being offered by companies that aren’t aware of the local user group community, the time and effort of those running these groups to keep them fresh and find new technologies/platforms to keep the groups alive and healthy, it is up to you to keep your user group from going extinct.
If you aren’t aware of your regional Oracle user group, here’s a list of Oracle User groups and their links. Although there aren’t any links, this page has a monstrous list that with a little web research, will lead to any that are missing from the IOUG page. Just like being part of your community in your town, place of worship or family, this is the one that is clearly a large part of your life- your career.
Now, I need to get back to building out the last hands on lab for the Quarterly Education Workshop for RMOUG and prepare for opening up the call for papers for Training Days 2016, but I think you get the idea how important this is to me. Giving back is paving the way for the technologists of tomorrow and the only way that happens is to be part of it.