#EmeraldCubeCares – STEM Careers in Atlanta

4th June 2015

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On Friday April 3rd, I had the honor of presenting to two of Mr. Dave Gordon’s 9th grade classes at Carver Early College High School in south Atlanta. The event was for their annual career day, and this year the school was focusing on a topic near and dear to my heart – STEM careers. For those perhaps unfamiliar with the acronym, the day centered around the importance of education and jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

I really thought I might go in there sounding a bit like a broken record about the importance of STEM. I live it and I’m around it every day – so the value of STEM is just second nature in my technology career. I was absolutely blown away as to how surprised and eye opening the entire presentation seemed to be to these kids.

First, I spoke a bit about my career in business intelligence and data science and what it looks like to deliver insights to businesses so they can make better decisions about how they should run. Then I talked specifically about the importance of learning to code, as my original background and education is in Computer Science. I shared a short video from Code.org to explain the value behind learning to code and talked about the Vine City Code Crew initiative that I founded to teach coding and technology to youth in under-resourced communities. I spoke with the kids about supply and demand and how it relates to the spike in technology career needs – a trend that doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. I gave them an analogy I had hoped would resonate with them. We talked in terms of a latest-and-greatest video game system that comes out for the holidays. I asked, “What happens when there’s not enough of the game consoles available and a ton of people want them?” to which they all nearly yelled in unison, “The price goes UP!’” To which I responded, “As an engineer in technology, you’re the game console. And the employers are the buyers willing to pay that high price.” That seemed to get their attention.

But in addition to great pay, tech careers are so much more – creativity, challenging problem solving, amazing colleagues and flexibility. All these benefits are embodied in who we are at EmeraldCube, so I was able to share with them first hand what it means to have a rewarding career where you’re not physically bound by a set time or predetermined space to do a particular job. There’s a lot of responsibility to constantly deliver and meet the demands of your clients, but it also means a great deal of freedom and flexibility; and that makes a huge difference. And because so much of the value I deliver comes while working remotely with my clients and my BI team, I told the group I could do my job from the surface of the moon (provided I had a fast enough internet connection!).

I relayed to the EmeraldCube team how rewarding and inspiring the morning was for me. It was truly an experience that I hope to do more; it was so fun to see these kids light up, getting excited about technology. I went into the day unsure that I had anything new to say that these kids hadn’t already heard, or that anything I would have to say would make any difference to them. I left energized and convinced that we all owe it to kids in under-resourced communities to share with them the importance of STEM education and careers. And these kids seem to think it’s an important message as well. They’ve already asked Mr. Gordon when I can come back to class…

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