Thursday, March 07, 2013
Posted by: Chuck Brown, Region 1 President
It was 1980, and after a couple of years of casual attendance, I decided to join DPMA. At the same time, my wife got into "data processing” as a programmer trainee – she joined, too. We both, shortly thereafter, ended up on the San Diego Chapter's Board of Directors. So, here I am, recently (semi-) retired and still involved. So, what's the draw? What's in it for me (WIIFM)?
First and foremost, AITP offers a place to meet the local technology community, share ideas and issues, and find out what is currently hot in the community and industry. When I started "cranking out code” (1967), it was punched cards on the IBM 1130 mini-computer. Then it was on to the exploding world of the mainframe. Batch processing was well-understood and teleprocessing, timesharing, and other stuff were catching on pretty quickly. Since that time, IT has expanded exponentially – lots of programming languages, applications platforms, networking, data mining, storage capacity, and the web, to name a few new directions. AITP provides the doors to open on these technologies and the people struggling to understand and use them. What a great learning environment!
The other big WIIFM, for me, is the business growth potential. What better arena to sharpen your business and management skills (without fear of being fired) than working with the Chapter, its Region and the Association? Organization, planning, public speaking, and presentation skills all get exercised while benefiting AITP. Everything from serving on a committee, to chairing one, to being the program's speaker or panelist, being involved on the chapter board, and doing the same at the region and Association level provides ample opportunity for learning and growth.
The industry diversity and the need for specialization, combined with rapid change, telecommuting, and massive information availability, threaten to create isolation. People are content to "do their job” and attend the occasional meeting (live or electronic). They're happy with what they're doing (until it is obsolete) or they're scrambling to learn the next new thing. Are they stepping back to see the larger picture, or is this just a job and not a career?
In the days of "big iron,” it was simpler to see where technology is going. The window into the future was big. Today, there isn't a clear window – you almost need a crystal ball so you can choose which porthole to look through. The absence of that window into "where I want to go” is a serious issue for today's professionals. It is more and more difficult to answer that interview question: Where do I want to be in five years? Ten years?
AITP is a valuable resource for today's needs and planning for the future. Whether you are programmer or a CIO, the resources are there – people and print – to make the research, questions, and answers easier to find.
Chuck Brown, CDP/CCP, chairs the Region Presidents' Council, is Region 1 President, and a Lifetime Member of AITP.