The International Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Here is how Aubrey Quick, Software Engineer from CQL, is bringing it to her home town in Northwestern Michigan.
This is International Hour of Code Week. For those of you who know us here at CQL, you will not be surprised to hear that we are jumping at the chance to get involved in our communities and get youth excited about careers in technology.
Hour of Code is a movement to get kids exposed to coding. It is supported by a forward-thinking community of educators and professionals that have developed (and curated) a plethora of one-hour long online coding tutorials. Impressively, these lessons are available in over 45 languages and throughout this week, students in over 180 countries will be participating. The lessons start from the basics and are easy to understand, so no prior coding experience is needed.
Schools all over the globe will be hosting Hour of Code events throughout the week, including one school near my home, Mason County Central Middle School.
To help give Mr. Asiala’s 8th Grade Math Classes some context, before they jumped into their coding lessons this week, I headed over to give them the inside scoop on what code is and what it’s like to work as a software developer. We talked about all sorts of things that can use code, like the International Space Station, drones, and automatic garage door openers. The students were really excited to see that fun and interesting work environments are out there. It was my hope that my visit would open up a few minds to careers in computing, in addition to providing insight into what a 21st century workplace can be like.
Pro Tip: For software professionals like me, it is the small things like this (which we can easily work into our everyday schedule), that have the potential to impact the next generation of our workforce.
Oceana College Access Network (CAN) and Mason County Growth Alliance are groups in my local area that are helping students become aware of the career opportunities that are available right here in West Michigan. These organizations are helping us understand where we currently are and what can be done to help better prepare our students for their careers.
Oceana CAN provides statistics on students in Oceana County. I found it interesting that out of all the high school graduates in Oceana that attend college, only 31% of those students graduate with a degree within 6 years. Last year, only 29.% of 11th grade students scored at or above the ACT college-ready benchmark in math, and only 25% in science. While these numbers are lower than the state averages, they have been showing a steady increase since 2012.
We feel it is important that professionals get involved in local education so students can learn about career opportunities and realistic job expectations in the workplace, today. I believe this awareness can motivate students in high school, as well as assist them in selecting the right certificate or degree program after graduation.
Oceana CAN provides a list of the Top 10 Ways to Prepare for College. This list includes exploring careers and connecting with others through programs such as mentorships. These are initiatives that the CQL team is continuously participating in, and it’s great to have the support of the community in these efforts.
The Mason County Growth Alliance is very involved in workforce development, exposing K-12 students to careers, and helping connect them to the proper training. Specifically, the organization has Career Explorations scheduled for the spring and they are currently looking for professionals to come speak about their careers. They are also planning job fairs at three of the local school districts for April and May. For the Michigan-based readers of this blog, if you know of any companies that might be interested in participating, please help us make that connection!
As technology and the world change, many rural communities are seeing an opportunity to support remote workers like me. Mason County Growth Alliance is working to make the county a better place for remote workers to live. They are currently promoting residential development, and highlighting west Michigan's affordable cost of living and excellent quality of life. This is great news for those interested in computing careers, since it opens up a lot of opportunities to work in our field for any number of companies, both within Michigan and across the globe. Working on high-tech projects from the comfort of our homes in Mason County - does it get any better than that?
In 2017, the Mason County Growth Alliance plans to reach out to some of the remote workers in our area to better understand our needs and desires, and determine what can be done to attract more talented workers to our community.
Both Oceana CAN and the Mason County Growth Alliance organize programs to help students become aware of careers in our area, in addition to holding job fairs for current job seekers.
If you are interesting in getting involved in any of these events, you can reach out to each group through their website. You can also contact Mason County Growth Alliance directly by emailing Spence Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the Hour of Code week is wrapping up, this is the perfect time to think about ways that you are already helping out your community, or additional ways that you can get involved.
Are there other organizations where you live that are working to help prepare our youth for life after high school? Have you been involved in any career exploration activities or job fairs for students?
Please share your experiences with us in the comments!