Boston Public Schools Shadow Day: Showing Students What Those 1.5 Million STEM Jobs Really Look Like

| Lauren Metter

2014-01-31 13.43.54

MassTLC President & CEO Tom Hopcroft made a good point this week at their annual meeting: “The history of technology in Massachusetts has been well chronicled. But what is happening around technology in Massachusetts today – and what the future promises – is far more exciting.” Every facet of our future is 100 percent dependent on today’s youth—the workforce, the developers, the innovators of tomorrow.

In an age where there will be more than 1.5 million computer science jobs to fill within the next four years—where 81 percent of MA tech executives plan on hiring in 2014 alone—it’s really our duty to prepare them, by training students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics earlier on.

“Boston’s labor market data make it clear that technology professions offer the greatest opportunity for young people seeking to advance themselves economically,” Neil Sullivan, Executive Director of the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) told us.

Right now, there is a talent crisis amongst students in these fields, so how do we inspire them to pursue the fields needed to future STEM careers?

Math and science classes are a little different than shadowing a developer who’s actually in the field creating a new Android app at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center. Or the guy behind the latest Xbox One software. On Friday, January 31, for the Boston PIC’s 19th annual Groundhog Day Job Shadow for Boston Public Schools, we aimed to inspire students by bringing them into the thick of things, experiencing first-hand what technology-focused jobs are actually like.

“The participation of Microsoft and other high-tech companies in PIC initiatives is critical to fostering student interest in high demand career areas, such as computer programming and software development,” Sullivan said. “The PIC seeks to expand participation in job shadows and other work-based learning opportunities in the technology sector in the months and years to come … to encourage talented and motivated students to aspire to a technology-related major in college.”

Have we peaked students’ interest in tech majors and jobs this year? We let some of the students who shadowed Microsoft NERD employees shared their Job Shadow Day experiences and answer that question themselves.

The Students with Microsoft's Alvin Chardon
The Students with Microsoft’s Alvin Chardon

“The visit to Microsoft helped me explore my career interest as well as other careers in technology,” said Julian Smith Sparks after the trip. “I’m interested in learning more about the technology industry and possibly a career in computer programming and software design.”

“My favorite part about visiting Microsoft for Job Shadow Day was seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ on how apps are created,” said Kimetra Thompson. “You wouldn’t imagine how much work goes into making the simplest app. First comes the idea of the type of app; then you have to map out how to navigate through the app and so much more.”

“A great part of the day was just talking to Alvin Chardon about Microsoft and his career and how he got to where he is now,” said WanFai Lee.

“I was never interested in a career specifically in computer science or programming or the technology industry so much as I was interested in engineering in general,” Lee admitted. “Going to Microsoft allowed me to see one aspect, the program engineer side. And I have to say, it looks pretty fun.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,