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Young people beginning Oracle careers often have a lot of hurdles to leap. Many start out without Oracle-specific knowledge or the right connections to call on when they want to learn more. At the Collaborate 14 conference in April, the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) reached out to attendees between the ages of 25 and 35 to help them found a Young Professionals Forum. On Aug. 13, the forum held its first educational webinar, focusing on Oracle's big data offerings.
In follow-up interviews, several participants revealed they're facing some of the same difficulties and decisions -- and the hope behind the forum is they can help each other through.
Tamicka Camp, a 35-year-old applications analyst at Southern Company, explained that when she started working at the Atlanta-based utility holding company three years ago, she didn't just have to learn on the job -- she also had to make it look like she already knew what to do. "The challenge," she said, "is just being a young professional trying to get your feet wet and get in the door."
Kelsi Jones, 26, has been working for three years as an applications consultant at health insurer Humana in Lexington, Ky. "It's a hard career to get into, especially as a female," she said. "And I'm young enough to be some of these guys' children or grandchildren." Jones described a phone call in which the person on the other end of the line refused to speak to her because he couldn't believe someone her age and gender could be capable of handling IT work. She eventually had to bring an older male colleague onto the call.
Kelsi JonesApplications Consultant, Humana
Ravi Madabhushanam had a different experience. The 29-year-old joined Apps Associates LLC in 2010 while living in Hyderabad, India. The business and IT consulting services provider, which is based in Acton, Mass., later asked him to move to the U.S.; he is now a senior database solution architect at the company. "My work was tied to Oracle from the beginning," he said, but unlike the steep uphill climbs that Camp and Jones described, Mabadhushana started doing work for clients only after receiving extensive on-the-job training. "This is how it happens in India," he explained.
As a result, Madabhushanam's interest in the Young Professionals Forum is more to see what other companies are doing in the Oracle space and less to forge connections. "My focus to join this group is to get another perspective," he said. Madabhushanam also feels he has knowledge to contribute to the group, though he's too busy to take a leadership role.
Jones, on the other hand, came to the Young Professionals Forum looking for contacts to reach out to when she runs into a problem at work and the online tech support walkthrough provided by Oracle doesn't help. "For me, it was a good networking opportunity," she said. "For our generation, it's all about who you know."
Camp is one of the two people currently on the forum's steering committee. The other member is Anna Groce, the OAUG's membership and marketing manager. "The whole purpose is to help," Camp said. She sees the forum providing both technical knowledge and useful advice for newcomers to Oracle. As one of the older members of the group, Camp described those elements as "some of the things we wish we had starting out." The current big push for the forum, she added, is putting group members in touch with the right people: professional contacts, mentors and peers with product expertise.
As a new organization within the OAUG, the Young Professionals Forum is still finding its feet, looking for more leaders and deciding what it wants to be. Camp and Groce plan to have regular webinars on a variety of topics related to Oracle careers and technologies. They are also working to raise the number of the group's members and fill in leadership roles. "The forum is in the incubation period right now," Camp said. But, she added, "It's a good start."
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