Training and Mentoring before the age of Google

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Ah, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I’m 40 now, but in my mid 20’s, I was one of those “wiz-kids” at the dawn of Client Server. When BitNet and BBSes were the norm and the “Internet” was usually accessed using UseNet net news and a dialup modem.

In those years, my now-Chariot co-hort Gordon Dickens and I led training courses in technologies like Powerbuilder (remember that?), Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server, Data Modeling, and more. We were eventually the first firm in the Philly area to teach Java (and Gordon and I the first instructors). I never looked back.

Funny story: I was teaching an Introduction to SQL course, and in those days the workstations weren’t powerful enough to run a server engine. So, we had everyone wired up to the instructor machine (which was a powerful HP 9000 server). Nobody could connect on the second day. I must have spent 30 minutes walking between the network server and the workstations, checking client configurations.

I finally went to another more seasoned instructor and asked him what might be wrong. He took one look at the floor, smiled wryly, and handed me the unplugged network cable that fell out of the server.

I tell you that because, all these years later, one of my co-workers just explained what “being an expert” is: you’ve made all of those stupid mistakes that other people have yet to make. I am pretty sure I agree.

Now we at Chariot are providing public and private training, and we are offering official SpringSource Core Spring training, starting September 29th. It reminds me of my early days at Information Technologists with Gordon Dickens and a host of other wonderful consultants and trainers. I have to say that I haven’t been as happy working at a technology company since those early days.

My goals for the training practice are simple: stay away from “Sheep Dip” training approaches (rapid-fire, run through the slides at all costs and only teach to those left at the end), and truly try to reach each student in whatever way is possible. I hope we will meet and teach many new students in the coming years, but our overriding goal for the program is to teach the essential skills needed for students to become self-sufficient in the technology being taught.

This is at the core of who we are at Chariot. Browse our website. Listen to the podcasts. Read our blog posts. Follow our #ChariotSolution or #techcast twitter streams. Browse our presentations dating back half a decade. These are talented folks, and I’m very glad I am able to offer my skills in reaching others to a company that truly cares about doing the right thing to provide solutions and elevate the skills of their community, clients and employees.