#BlackSTEMLikeMe - Interviews With The Next Generation
When discussing my inclusion in the #BlackSTEMLikeMe with the campaign's Social Media Strategist, I casually asked if there was any interest in letting me contribute in other ways as well. Intrigued by the ask, we brainstormed briefly and concluded that it would be a great idea to speak with some of our future potential STEM leaders. I gladly accepted the offer and got started on pulling together the blog idea.
Having worked with several parents/teens in the MVP stage of my prior startup I reached back out to that group of parents, as well as solicited participation from the other parents in my social networks. First a disclaimer – I am not a professional videographer nor am I a media professional so you will be seeing the brief conversations in full. I am just a guy who fell in love with technology at a young age lucky enough to have parents and others recognize that interest and support it. What I wanted to achieve with these interviews is to provide a peek behind the curtain into the thoughts of a teen with that same type of nascent fascination with technology and the types of decisions and mentorship needs they might have to truly connect them to the field as a career.
Sammy Henderson – Age 13
Sean Wiggs – Age 16
Special thanks to these gentlemen for the time, as well as the parents for hanging around afterward to discuss their thoughts on what it is like keeping the fires burning around an industry with an oft-impenetrable view into the sheer scope of jobs available to people. While STEM refers specifically to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, each of these have their own, as well as overlapping ecosystems. Some are more defined than others. While the Engineering and Science disciplines have a more prescriptive path to employment, the roads for Technology (my area) and Math have many twists and turns. Often these other jobs, examples being Designers, Manager, or Technical Writers, are overlooked. In what turned out to be an interview bonus, one of the parents is a technology recruiter and provided valuable insights into the difference between the employee profile recruited by a typical technology company for and the profile, skills, and career path of the average American university student.
Overall it was a tremendous experience and we walked away with more questions than answers that we can all consider as we go back to our everyday lives. For example:
- How do we help educate teachers and guidance counselors on the numerous paths to a career in STEM?
- How do we amplify knowledge of information sources into the larger community of young technology lovers?
- How are we connecting the skills explored in camps to the ecosystem of jobs surrounding them?
- What is separating our students from seeming to be focused on STEM careers and creating a better hiring profile that does not seem to be present in technology professionals coming from other countries?
I love STEM and would love to improve Black representation in the field. Some factors are within our control, and others are not, but campaigns like this are encouraging portrayals of others – past, present, and future – who are #BlackSTEMLikeMe.
(I’ve got work on that if I ever interview anyone else in the future).