Get Recognized for Mentoring With the AIX Badge Program
Get recognized for your AIX community efforts and learn how others have done the same.
By Karen E Lewis11/02/2020
Back in the day, when Christopher Lang started UNIX®, the only reference or learning materials available were costly vendor-facilitated training courses, the paper version of the manual that came with the server hardware, and if you could find a decent book shop, it was the odd generic UNIX paperback.
Having more than five years of solid experience working with AIX®, and a couple of decades’ worth of knowledge in other flavors of UNIX, Lang, an infrastructure operations engineer at BPDTS, a digital service partner that’s part of the Department for Work and Pensions in the U.K., broached the mentor idea with his line manager. After a brief discussion, they agreed it would be a great idea for him to volunteer. He quickly set up his mentoring and staff profiles. In no time, Lang was matched with Callum Murray, an application support analyst in the infrastructure apprentice program, who aspired to join the BPDTS Server Operations Team.
Recognizing Contributions to the AIX Community
Participating in the mentoring program has proved to be a positive experience for Lang, too. “My work as a mentor, as well as some other extra AIX-related things I’ve done, has been formally recognized by IBM, leading to me receiving the AIX Community Contributor badge.”
According to Prenessa Lowery, product marketer for IBM Power Systems™, the community is a central place for badge earners to collaborate and share ideas as they continue the momentum of AIX through skills development and training. Three badge levels, each with different criteria, are available to any non-IBMer.
AIX Community Contributor
The AIX Community Contributor badge recognizes users who are just starting out with their community contribution efforts. To be awarded this badge, applicants must complete at least three of the following within a 12-month period:
- Present at least one session on AIX at a user group or industry event
- Contribute at least one blog post or article to an industry publication or LinkedIn
- Contribute code to at least one AIX open-source project on GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, etc.
- Contribute continually as a member of the board or leadership committee of an IBM Power Systems user group such as AIX Forum for at least one year
- Create or contribute to at least one piece of content such as a demo video, customer story or podcast for AIX
- Contribute continually as a member of an IBM Power Systems customer advisory council such as TCC for at least one year
AIX Community Influencer
The AIX Community Influencer badge recognizes active contributors to the AIX community who are in good standing with their peers. Criteria is similar to the AIX Community Contributor badge, with the caveat that contributions must be more frequent or longer in duration.
AIX Community Advocate
The AIX Community Advocate badge recognizes frequent, active members of the AIX community. As with the other badges, qualifying activities include speaking at user groups and conferences, serving on a client advisory council, creating an article or demo video about the platform, or contributing code to an AIX open-source project via GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, etc.
“The badge program recognizes community members who regularly contribute to the success and vitality of the AIX community and are passionate about helping peers and AIX users to improve their skills and knowledge,” Lowery says.
What it Takes to be a Mentor
Mentoring is evolving into a valuable learning, development and support mechanism. By partnering with a mentor, mentees benefit from one-to-one guidance and coaching to help them identify and complete a learning and development path they create.
Emma Moore, senior agile delivery manager at BPDTS, is responsible for the company’s mentoring initiative. Under Moore’s watch, the mentoring activities at BPDTS have shaped into a formal program with hundreds of successful mentoring partnerships.
“BPDTS mentors find it’s hugely satisfying to use personal skills and experience to help coach someone through a professional journey. Mentees participating in the program look for support in their career, career progression guidance, or are perhaps looking to find a mentor to help them through a specific situation,” Moore says.
Mentoring Success With AIX
Mentoring is a terrific opportunity to help someone with their learning journey. Along that journey, both the mentor and the mentee experience different milestones, which the IBM AIX Community Badge Program seeks to recognize with the influencer, advocate and contributor awards.
That’s because everyone’s journey is unique depending on skills, circumstances and desired outcomes. Different subject interests and expertise also shape the mentor/mentee relationship. In the case of Lang and Murray, they decided to book weekly hour-long virtual meetings dedicated purely to mentor/mentee time.
Each week, the pair aimed to tackle a separate subject area within AIX. Due to location, they found getting together via Skype and using the share screen tool worked well. Lang could easily demo a task or procedure using BPDTS’s test/sandpit server, and Murray could watch and take notes, or do the hands-on work while Lang directed and provided tips and help.
Lang stressed the importance of asking questions from the start of their partnership. “When you’re learning, it’s important not to be afraid to ask questions no matter how silly or irrelevant they might feel. To me, asking questions indicates a mentee is engaging in the sessions, and absorbing the knowledge-share,” he says.
To Murray’s credit, he asked a lot of questions. “Callum knows he can continue to message or call me to ask questions or seek advice outside of our official weekly slot and he does just that, which is great. The arrangement we’ve made works well,” adds Lang.
From Apprentice to Full-Time Job
The BPDTS mentoring scheme has helped Murray develop critical skills in his infrastructure apprentice role. “I now have a direct route to ask technical questions where I need and to develop a learning plan with Christopher; this means we can go over certain areas of difficulty when it’s needed,” he says.
Job shadowing has helped Murray gain exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches to different pieces of work including routine tasks, patching preparation and callout situations.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the learning curve of my new infrastructure role and all the skills I’ve acquired in a short space of time. The experience has given me the confidence to apply for a permanent position within the BPDTS team–which I’m happy to say resulted in success,” he adds. “I might even eventually stop bombarding Christopher with questions.”
Powerful Knowledge Sharing
Mentoring is gaining momentum as a professional development approach. “On its own, mentoring isn’t a silver bullet to solve either an individual’s development needs or meet an organization’s learning objectives,” Moore says. “The impact and value of mentorship exponentially increase when it becomes one of many tools in a person’s learning and development toolbox.”
Used in conjunction with other activities including, coaching, shadowing, peer-to-peer training and formal training, mentoring complements a more comprehensive approach to career mobility and professional development.
“I’ve enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing my mentee, Callum, flourish in his career during an accelerated learning period. I saw him asking the same questions I’d have loved to have asked; it’s a great way to learn more about the solutions, an avenue I wished I had all those years ago,” Lang says.
Karen E. Lewis is a global market segment manager with the IBM Systems and Technology Group. She has more than 20 years experience.