Demystifying the Field of Information Technology
What do General Mills, Veritas Technologies<, classrooms/students in the metro area, and the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence have in common? They have Tech IT Out! MN — which matches Information Technology (I.T.) professionals from General Mills and Veritas Technologies with middle and high school classrooms in the metro area. In many cases, the one hour interactive presentations with secondary age students is the first opportunity for young people to discover what I.T. is, who works in I.T., where I.T. happens, and why is I.T. essential to business success.
The engaging presenters share their journey into their respective roles as well as introduce students to a diverse spectrum of technology careers and opportunities. Presenters are intentional with their messages, addressing common misconceptions about I.T. workers, while shedding light on the diversity and excitement of I.T. careers. Demystifying I.T. is often the first step to opening a student’s mind to technology education and career options. Post presentation survey results from nearly 3,000 youth consistently reveals positively changed perceptions, and significantly improved interest in what the field has to offer.
During Fall Semester 2017, over 400 students from 16 different metro area high schools discovered what a day in the life of an I.T. professional is like at a major food company and a data management company — and, they learned how information technology significantly impacts nearly every thriving business and organization in Minnesota, across the nation, and throughout the world. Locally, Minneapolis South High School students experienced a Tech IT Out! MN presentation by Veritas Technologies employees, Annette Tousley, Eric Swenson, and Marigelle Malapria. Math and Computer Science teacher Karl Griffin invited the Veritas presenters into two classes to help bring student’s learning about Veritas Technologies…… to life.
According to survey results from presenters, teachers and students, the Tech IT Out! experience is clearly hitting the mark. Students were asked to describe their perception of technology work and career opportunities, BEFORE and then AFTER the presentation. As indicated by fall semester students, their knowledge and interest in I.T. changed as follows:
STUDENT PERSPECTIVES BEFORE & AFTER PRESENTATION
|I know very little about IT roles and careers||41%||9%||+32%|
|Is fun and interesting||36%||61%||+25%|
|Is not too difficult for me||17%||34.5%||+17.5%|
|Is personally rewarding||18%||42%||+24%|
|It’s about solving problems||38.5%||57.5%||+19%|
|A career I’m interested in||31.5%||42.5%||+11%|
Company representatives also report great value in the experience. When asked, Deb Wilmot, NetBackup Support, Backline at VeritasTechnologies, had this to say following her multiple presentations to students from Spectrum High School in Elk River, “I have presented Tech IT Out presentations several times now at two different high schools and I thoroughly enjoyed every session. I love seeing the excitement in student’s faces when I talk to them about the career possibilities within I.T. Many of them have the perception that I.T. equates to only program and development. They don’t realize that there are dozens of different roles within the umbrella of I.T. which require many different skill sets, talents and aptitudes. The students I talk to are our future, I hope that my time with them have inspired them to pursue their dreams. It always makes my day when I get to interact with the students.”
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
Employers: The Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence is considering adding more employers to provide future presentations. Materials and support are provided, making it simple and easy for presenters to become engaged.
Teachers/Schools: Beginning in mid-March through mid-May, 2018 metro area classrooms will have the next opportunity to experience Tech IT Out! MN. The request period begins January 22, and ends February 16. To learn more, contact Russell Fraenkel, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships, firstname.lastname@example.org.