Robin, who is the president of Roanoke .NET UG, and one of the driving forces behind both Roanoke Code Camp and Richmond Code Camp, writes about the benefits of forming a relationship with local community colleges:
Roanoke Valley .NET User Group (RV.NUG) has discovered that Code Camps have many benefits for the user group. One of these benefits has been the establishment and ongoing relationship with the local community college. Virginia Western Community College has been gracious and supportive by being the venue host for the Roanoke Code Camps. As a result of this relationship, the technology community has benefited in the following ways.
Code Camp benefits
- Speakers from beyond the region come to present. As a result, technical experts (most willing to contribute their knowledge again and again) learn of the user group and the community college.
- Attendees from beyond the region attend. We had attendees from over 2 hours away in each direction (from Charlottesville, VA to Greensboro, NC). I know several of these attendees have now joined the user group and I expect some of have also attended classes at the community college.
- Since Code Camp is not a sponsor event, the focus during the event is on the user group and the venue host. The user group gets the opportunity to talk with many new people. The college gets the opportunity to share information. In the case of Virginia Western, they were able to share information about programs beyond the degree program; such as certificate programs, professional training and leadership training opportunities.
- Networking occurs during the event at a company level. I had several discussions with people that worked on a development team at a local company that had not heard of the user group or Code Camp before. They indicated they were going to encourage their team to attend a user group meeting.
Beyond Code Camp
- VWCC partnered with RV.NUG and .NET U to host a hands-on lab based training opportunity for 30 attendees. The event was held on two Thursday evenings in a college lab. Not only did the college provide use of the lab, they preloaded all of the machines with Visual Studio 2005, the 3.0 Framework and the lab files!
- Any time the college has a special event or wants to distribute information, the user group shares this information with the group and monthly meetings. In addition, the college is able to include information in the monthly newsletter.
- The college also promotes RV.NUG. This is done by various methods including instructors promoting during classes and flyers posted on the bulletin boards.
- User group leaders receive a lot of information from Microsoft. They in turn share this information with the user group mailing list (which includes the college). Recently our user group shared information on Microsoft Dream Spark (Professional Developer and Designer tools for students at no charge https://downloads.channel8.msdn.com )
If you work with a user group, I encourage you to establish a relationship with the local community college in your area. As you can see, this relationship benefits the user group, the community college and the technical community.