By Ed Jaffe, MVS Program Co-manager
"Seinfeld" fans will remember the famous stand-up routine where Jerry Seinfeld observes, "According to most studies, people's No. 1 fear is public speaking. No. 2 is death. Death is No. 2. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
I laugh every time I see that bit, but never fully considered the truth of what he was saying until one day, while serving on the SHARE Nominating Committee for Director, I met a SHARE veteran for the very first time. As we shook hands, he remarked, "It's a pleasure to meet you; I hear you're an excellent presenter." Somewhat taken aback, I paused a moment to reflect on my earliest presentation experiences — so nervous I could barely choke out the words — and then replied, "Thank you. To the extent that's true, I learned it all here at SHARE."
Those of us who do volunteer work for this fine organization understand that doing so contributes to the mainframe community at large and that our efforts help the platform's ecosystem thrive. We know that SHARE volunteerism can be both fun and rewarding, but most of us never focus on what it gives back to us in the form of personal growth.
Getting involved, sharing what you know, learning from others, giving a presentation or even just chairing a session all help improve your presentation, leadership, team building and social skills in a safe, judgment-free environment without the pressure and politics that too often exist in today's corporate workplace. Any contribution you make, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is always appreciated by your fellow volunteers and the skill set improvements you obtain by osmosis can only help your career and other endeavors you undertake.
There are 22 projects across six programs at SHARE, all of which welcome anyone willing to step up as a volunteer. The projects cover everything from z Systems hardware to operating systems like z/OS, z/VM and Linux, middleware, languages, databases, storage, networking, virtualization, data center management, security, performance, application development, a fairly new project dedicated to developmental operations (DevOps) and even a professional development (PDEV) project for those hoping to fast track their skills and career advancement. No matter where your interests lie, you should be able to find other like-minded individuals working in the trenches that need your help.
Some say the paradox of life is "the more you give, the more you get"; my experience volunteering with SHARE over the past couple of decades has proved this many times over. So get involved, give back, help organize, present a user experience, chair a session and, in doing so, improve yourself — you won't regret it.
Ed Jaffe began his software development career by writing applications for government and research organizations in Washington, D.C. After moving to Los Angeles in 1982, he transitioned to the banking industry and eventually took a software development position with Phoenix Software International in 1987. He became manager of Research & Development in the mid-1990s and was named chief technology officer in 2009. Jaffe is a co-manager of the MVS Program at SHARE, an active participant in numerous mainframe-related social media sites and IBM's System z PartnerWorld for Developers program, and is recognized throughout the mainframe community as a subject matter expert and strong advocate for the z Systems platform with an emphasis on z/OS.