Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #6

On Monday I did my 6th talk at Birmingham City University (BCU).

During this session I spoke to second year computer science students about graduate employment with a sprinkling of community involvement thrown in. This was a modified version of a session I gave about 2 years ago, which inspired a series of blog posts called What Employers Want.

I always find these sessions fun, as they are not normal tech presentations. I’ve mentioned this before, but these type of session require different skills compared to straight tech presentations, because you can’t hide behind the tech. 🙂

If you are a tech speaker, reach out to your local universities and colleges to see if they need some guest speakers. You will both benefit from this!

Thanks to Jagdev Bhogal and BCU for inviting me again. See you again soon.

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #5

bcuI had a day off work today so I could go over to Birmingham City University (BCU) and do a talk to the students.

Today’s session was more about giving them an idea of where databases fit into the big picture as far as data and data processing is concerned. I obviously come at this as a relational database guy, but the presentation also included NoSQL and Hadoop. I hope nobody is naive enough anymore to think relational databases are the correct solution for every use case, so it’s important to be objective about this stuff, rather than to push your own agenda.

Over recent weeks I’ve spent time trawling through material to get a feel for the subject matter, and it’s quite depressing to see the territorial pissing that goes on between all these camps. Each trying to convince you their solution is suitable for use cases where it clearly is not. To be fair, most of this is not coming from the experts themselves, but from the hangers on who can’t cope with the fact their favourite tech might not be perfect. We’ve all been there! 🙂

Over the weekend as I was putting the talk together and Mark Rittman tweeted a link to this article.

I could have kissed him. The article is really even-handed and certainly helped me to put some of what I wanted to say into context.

After the session I was invited to a staff meeting to discuss industry engagement. So that’s the second time today I had to discuss something I know nothing about. 🙂 It was actually really interesting though.

Presenting at conferences and writing on the internet makes you, to some extent, part of the education system. Getting involved in this stuff is quite an eye-opener and makes you think about how you approach things yourself. As I’ve said many times before, I do all this stuff on the internet for me, but if I can make a few adjustments to make what I do more useful and/or accessible to others, that is worth considering.

I got connected with BCU as part of the UKOUG NextGen event in 2014 and the relationship has grown from there. If you are interested in reaching out to some higher education (HE) establishments in the UK, you might want to contact UKOUG. You’re not going to get paid, but I think you will get more out of it personally than put put in! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #4

bcuOn Thursday last week, the day after UKOUG Tech15, I did my 4th talk at Birmingham City University (BCU).

In my previous visit I did a talk about community and employability to the staff. This time I did a quicker version of the same talk, but to the students. I’ll be going back a few times this year to do technical sessions.

I’ve mentioned before, this type of non-technical presentation is really useful in developing yourself as a presenter. It’s easy to hide behind the technical content. Non-technical presentations have to be more conversational and have more “personality”, for want of a better word. I think that feeds back into your general presentation style.

After the session I always have a chat with Stuart about how it went and what comes next. I get the feeling he’s sometimes worried I’m not getting enough out of it, but that’s far from the truth. I think these kind of sessions are helping me far more than I thought they would.

If you are thinking about getting into the presenting game, I’ve written some public speaking tips. As well as all that, consider throwing in a variety of types of session. If you have any local universities or colleges, get in contact and see if they need some guest speakers.

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #3

bcuOn Friday I took a day off work to pop over to do my 3rd talk at Birmingham City University (BCU). This one was rather unfamiliar territory for me, because it was directed at the staff and was focussed on student employability…

During a previous discussion with Stuart Hutchison from BCU, he suggested I take the “Community” session I presented at the UKOUG Next Gen event, add in some information about graduate recruitment and Bob’s your uncle. Sounds fine, but what do I know about graduate employment? It’s 20+ years since I left university…

Luckily, the online community came to the rescue. I sent a bunch of emails out to friends, small companies and huge corporate types. Over the years I’ve built up a network of contacts all over the world who were happy to help me out directly, or put me in touch with people in their organisation that could. I’ve already sent out thank you emails, but I’d just like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you once again to everyone that helped me out!

As the session started, people introduced themselves and it became apparent that everyone in the room (except me) was in some way linked to student employment and career development. Needless to say, I suddenly felt completely out of my depth, incredibly nervous and needed a change of underwear! 🙂 I introduced myself and made it very clear I was definitely not an expert in this subject, then proceeded to present the information I had gathered. It was meant to be about 60 minutes, but there was a lot of audience participation, so it ended up being more like 90 minutes. Despite my initial nerves, it went really well and was really good fun.

After the session I chatted with Professor Nick Morton, the Associate Dean (Student Experience) at BCU, and he was keen to get me involved in some of the other stuff they are doing, which also sounds like fun. After that I spent quite a long time chatting with Stuart. I will of course keep doing the technical stuff with his students.

I guess some of you may be wondering about my motivation for doing this stuff, especially the non-technical presentations. This isn’t a career move. I’m not being paid to do this. It’s good to try something different and stretch yourself. I’m not suggesting that technical presentations are easy, because they are not, but doing things like this take you out of your comfort zone and teach you a lot about the craft of presenting. I definitely feel this is making me a better presenter, which is a great confidence builder.

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #2

As mentioned in a previous post, when I was at Birmingham City University (BCU) speaking at the UKOUG Next Gen event, one of the lecturers saw me and subsequently asked if I would come in and do some technical talks for the students. I did the first about a month ago. Yesterday I had the morning off work to pop across to do another talk.

This talk was on virtualization. It’s based on the slides for my “Cure for Virtual Insanity” session, but I frame the subject a little differently and skip some of the content. I like doing this talk. It’s not too heavy and it gives an introduction into virtualization, which links into the current batch of DBaaS cloud offerings. I think it’s good for people to understand some of the building blocks their “magic” cloud services are built on. 🙂

I feel like the talk went well and I got some questions, so people must have been paying attention. 🙂

Afterwards I chatted with the guys about the session and more generally about how to move this guest speaker thing forward. If everything goes to plan I will be doing 4-6 of these sessions per year. I think it’s great how they are looking for feedback from external people and companies to help develop their students. It’s not like the antiquated approach lecturers used when I was at university. 🙂

Onwards and upwards…

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk

Last year I spoke at the UKOUG Next Gen event at Birmingham City University (BCU). One of the lecturers, Stuart Hutchison, from BCU saw me speaking and asked if I was interested in coming to speak to the students about Oracle. He’s trying to get a handful of external speakers to come in during the year and speak on a range of subjects to give the students a feel for what’s going on out in the world. Life was pretty hectic towards the end of last year so it took quite a while to actually get something sorted out. On Monday I went to BCU and did my first talk to the students.

I was quite nervous in the lead up to the session. I’m used to a dealing with an Oracle technology crowd, but I didn’t really know what to expect from the students. I spent some time talking to Stuart to try and get a feel for what he wanted. He sent me some of their Oracle course material and labs, which helped me to pitch my stuff at the right level and stopped me treading on his toes. 🙂 The students are currently in the middle of an Oracle security module, so I spoke about SQL injection, data redaction and transparent data encryption (TDE). The idea was to touch on a few subjects and leave plenty of time for questions.

I think it went pretty well, but I’ve got some room for improvement. 🙂 Despite it being an Oracle talk, it is quite a different crowd, which needs a different approach. I’ll be going back in about a month to do another session before the exam season kicks off, so that should give me some time to work on my approach a bit.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some of these sessions every year. I’m interested to see how this helps me develop as a speaker. Let’s see how it goes. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…