Younger IT Professionals: Connecting with EDUCAUSE

In this year’s member survey, many of you told us that what you value most (by far) about EDUCAUSE is the networking that comes with being a part of the EDUCAUSE community. It’s probably no surprise that interacting with the community is what EDUCAUSE staff love as well. We are energized by connecting with those we are devoted to supporting. While talking with members at this year’s annual conference a few weeks ago, I ran into a number of amazing younger professionals. Maybe this wasn’t purely a coincidence, since this year we also created an important new advisory council, the Young Professionals Advisory Council, whose members met during the conference.

We created this new group because another thing we learned from our member survey is that those who are in the early stage of their leadership journey struggle with knowing how to get involved with EDUCAUSE. Since several of these younger professionals wanted to learn what options are available, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to them.

The EDUCAUSE website includes some all-purpose information on how to connect and contribute, but here are a handful of additional suggestions specifically for younger professionals who want to engage with EDUCAUSE.

  • Review opportunities to volunteer, and then complete the volunteer form. There are many kinds and many levels of commitment. Here are a couple volunteer opportunities to consider:
    • Volunteer to be a proposal reader. Newer members of the community should consider serving as proposal readers for the 2017 EDUCAUSE annual conference (as well as other EDUCAUSE events such as Connect, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative [ELI] annual meeting, and our security conference). After you have the proposal submission process down, consider submitting your own proposal for another EDUCAUSE event. Connect events (in Chicago and Portland in 2017) are a particularly good match for those who are newer to leading interactive presentations — and they are great opportunities for networking.
    • Express interest in joining an ELI 7 Things advisory team, a rewarding professional opportunity. The fresh perspectives of young professionals are especially useful here, since these publications explore emerging technology and practices in teaching and learning. Contact Malcolm Brown, director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.
  • Join EDUCAUSE Constituent Groups (a full list is here). But don’t just join and lurk; be sure to use this opportunity to get advice and share your expertise. As you build knowledge and professional networks through a CG, reach out to CG leaders and volunteer to lead CG conversations and identify other ways to meaningfully connect with colleagues in these groups. You can sign up for CGs and take a look at archived discussions online, or contact Karen Wetzel, senior manager of ECAR working groups, for more information.
  • Join an ECAR Working Group. You can volunteer to be on new groups or suggest topics for (and even lead) new projects to help advance higher education IT. For more information, contact Karen Wetzel.
  • Write for EDUCAUSE:
  • Participate in our research. You can contribute to the body of knowledge around higher education topics, trends, and practices by participating in EDUCAUSE surveys, focus groups, and community interviews. Enhance the research portfolio by submitting your own research for publication, co-authoring a research study with an EDUCAUSE researcher, advising the EDUCAUSE research team as a subject matter expert, suggesting a new topic to study, writing a sidebar in a report, or providing a targeted quote to contextualize a research finding in an upcoming publication. Connect with the research team by e-mail or contact Eden Dahlstrom, chief research officer, for more information.
  • Help move higher education information security forward. The EDUCAUSE Cybersecurity Initiative has numerous opportunities to network and collaborate with peers to benefit your campus and the field at large. To connect with program staff, e-mail security-council@educause.edu or Joanna Grama, director of cybersecurity and IT GRC programs, for more information.
  • Contribute case studies for the Enterprise IT Program. Topics include effective sourcing strategies, IT service management, analytics, IT costs and funding, and other enterprise IT issues. Contact Betsy Reinitz, director of the Enterprise IT Program.

Finally, if you’re not sure where to start, you can always e-mail us, and a staff member will contact you.

You all have acknowledged that being a part of the community is the most rewarding aspect of EDUCAUSE membership. For those of you who are younger professionals, being an active, engaged member can be particularly rewarding. I look forward to meeting you, and I would love to get your input on how we can encourage more connections among all members in our community and especially those whose voices aren’t always heard. You can contact me at jobrien@educause.edu.

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John O’Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2016 John O’Brien. The text of this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.