Saturday, May 9, 2015

The challenges of leaving IT…

It’s been a year since I wrote part one and I wanted to follow it up.  Stepping out of the mainstream of IT has been a risk.  One of my biggest concerns is no longer being relevant in technology.  IT architecture grows at such a staggering rate it is almost impossible to keep up.  One of the initial challenges I faced moving into education is getting attention from vendors.  When your no longer on the purchasing end of things, not everyone is excited to talk with you since you no longer have purchasing power.  This initially was a challenge, as I wanted to bring more technology into the classroom.  My contacts and friends supported my decision but how do you support the side of classroom education where it no longer generates a profit?

MATC teaches VMware, Cisco, EMC and Microsoft.  While these are big players they are not the only ones in the IT world.  As I started to reach out to vendors I did receive the comment “oh your just an instructor” more than once when I tried to bring them in.  Unless the sales occurred immediately they had no desire to talk with “students”.  While it is not a sale today one never knows what the future is.  Many of the students that take the technical college education today become the engineers of tomorrow.  At a recent VMUG in Wisconsin I reconnected with about 30 former students that after only a year or two in the field are recommending and deploying solutions such as clouds and VDI. 

The exposure they get at the college level is what they are bringing to their employers.  Recently the Wisconsin Nutanix team came to MATC, sat done and simply asked how can we help educate your students.  It was not a sales call; they wanted to share an incredible technology with the next generation of professionals.  Two years ago Veeam flew Rick Vanover to MATC to help MATC create a backup lab for one of our classes and even provides one-year NFR licenses to students.  These are two great examples of the vendors investing in the next generation of professionals.  Does exposure at the college level guarantee a sale later on, some might debate that but Apple and Cisco don’t and have invested heavy in it.  As more data center technology continues to come into the classroom the question should not be “oh your just an instructor”, rather it should be “I would like to talk to the instructor”.

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