On April 14th, 2020 I was invited by my father, a middle school counselor, to talk to kids at his school about careers in tech for career day. Four classrooms worth of kids rotated through my room and I did my best to sell a career in tech as something interesting and rewarding.
For the kids who were especially disinterested I also gave some general advice on how to learn more about careers they’re interested in, how to network, and how they might get their first job.
Here’s the list of resources I came up with that I thought:
Hack Club is a non-profit community that helps high-schoolers start and run programming clubs at their school. They also have a large online group and run cool events like a cross-country hackathon on a train.
Hack Club is a spiritual descendent to Hackathon Hackers and Highscool Hackers, Facebook groups from around the time I was in college that highschoolers and college kids formed as they travelled between and organized different hackathons.
I hung out with the Hack Club folks in Burlington, VT while my friend Zach Fogg was working there.
This is a course that I have not audited but looked to me like a solid introduction to the most-popular programming related career path for middle schoolers: video game programming.
Pretty much every kid I talked to at the school who was interested in programming was interested in making video games. Some even showed me the characters they’d designed and music they composed for their video game ideas.
This website surveys engineers at popular companies to find out what they’re being paid. It’s eye-opening for anyone considering their career options to see just how much engineers are being paid at top companies.
Reviewing the latest stats gave me some pause and made me reconsider my current non-traditional career path. However, I still value freedom more than money.
Linktree & QR Codes
I used link tree to create a short link with all of these resources and generate QR codes which I printed out, cut into squares, and handed out at the beginning of my presentation.
I had four classes of kids in total with about 20 kids in each class.
It seems to me that they’d been sorted by how interested they were in technology already. One class was super interested, filled with aspiring video-game designers. One class was mildly interested with a couple kids already learning programming. The other two groups were largely disinterested.
Taking a step back from the daily grind and trying to make all of this relatable to middle schoolers was an interesting experience.
Career day was only half a day long. We started around 8am and finished up by 11. That was plenty for my voice to get hoarse, to start to forget what I’d already said.
It was as much a performance as anything and I don’t envy the teachers who do this every day. They’re truly something else and their job is hard.