COMMENT: In the Field
Get InvolvedBy Mike Riley
Join a user group for yourself, and volunteer to make the group better.
Many users of Oracle technology benefit from involvement with a user group. User groups provide educational opportunities, technology resources, and networking events, among many other things.
User groups exist for the benefit of the member. Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG), in particular, supports Oracle developers and architects. We are a not-for-profit organization—we survive on membership dues, as well as revenue that we derive from our educational offerings and vendor sponsorships. Without members, there is no ODTUG.
Beyond membership dues, user groups such as ODTUG benefit from their members in multiple ways. First, ODTUG members are often the people providing education. They are the speakers at the ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference, for example, providing the information you need to do your job better. Many ODTUG members and speakers are Oracle ACEs and Oracle ACE directors, the cream of the crop when it comes to independent experts on Oracle technology.
Second, ODTUG members volunteer their time onsite at our conferences. They might be helping you register at the conference, and they could be taking your tickets at lunch or at our special events. The ambassadors for each conference session are also volunteers—introducing the speakers, handing out and collecting session evaluations, taking headcounts, and handling communications.
Third, ODTUG members help plan and put on the conferences. Content teams of subject area experts help choose the most important and topical content to be presented at a conference. This content is selected at least six months before the conference begins, which is a risky proposition because of the speed of change in today’s technology. These experts do an excellent job, one that is invaluable in making our conferences the absolute highest quality possible.
The conference committee itself is made up of volunteers and is responsible for everything that goes on at the conference, from determining the allocation of presentations for specific topic areas to choosing keynote speakers and entertainment for special events. The committee is integral to the success of the conference and devotes many long hours to this endeavor. Committee meetings start a couple weeks after the previous conference has finished and are not complete until a summary call after the conference ends, in order to get everyone’s feedback on how to improve things for the following year.
While in this column I have referred mainly to the operations of ODTUG, I believe that most user groups operate in the same fashion. Without the many volunteers that are the heart of user group organizations, user groups would cease to exist. The strength of a user group is a reflection of the collective strength of its members. In order to remain a strong and vibrant community, the user group relies on its members to provide education, assistance at conferences, and leadership.
My recommendation to you is to get involved. Whether you are a member of ODTUG, another national or international user group, or one of the many regional or local user groups, become a bigger part of that organization. Volunteer for one of the many opportunities that exist in your user group. You will be rewarded with the knowledge that you are helping out and giving back to the organization. The user group will be stronger with your participation, and that’s a good thing.
Mike Riley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of ODTUG. Riley is a project manager/DBA for Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits in Edwardsville, Illinois, where he has developed applications using Oracle Database and Oracle tools for more than 20 years. Riley was ODTUG’s vice president in 2007 and 2008 and the 2008 Kaleidoscope conference chair.
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