I recently had a great time at RISE Academy in Oakland, CA where I participated in a career discussion with their students. RISE opened its doors to 7th and 8th graders over 10 years ago and is particularly focused on STEM subjects and preparing its students for the technology and scientific jobs of the future. A subject near and dear to my heart!
Speaking with the students was so much fun! The afternoon included several other companies too and the purpose was to give the students a chance to ask questions and learn about what it’s like to work in different industries and professions. For our part, we were able to discuss with the students some of the ways that the STEM subjects they are studying are applicable in the real world of work.
And ask they did!
They were bright and smart, and their questions were thoughtful. They wanted to know about what ATR did, whether we liked our jobs, what we thought we’d be doing when we were their age, what types of jobs we find people for, and more. I was so impressed with how seriously they had been contemplating their career paths. Whether they hoped to be a scientist, an astronaut, work with computers, or for the FBI (and all of those were represented!), they did not simply give a quick answer. They had clearly thought about what they wanted to do.
While many of the questions were technology and career focused, others were more general, and a few even a bit unexpected and fun. My answer to what superhero I would be led to a conversation about superheroes and superpowers. My choice of Wonder Woman was politely but firmly challenged because she doesn’t have superpowers exactly, just a lot of cool gadgets. I had to go to my second choice, Rogue from X-Men, to meet the criteria! It was a lively discussion and so indicative of the serious thought and consideration they give to everything – from superpowers to their career aspirations.
I was impressed with how much thought these young people have already given to their careers. They understand the importance of education in achieving their goals and the hard work that it takes to get there. Their joy and curiosity were contagious from the start. They clearly love the school and their teachers and are enthusiastic about learning. They’re kids, so I’m sure it’s sometimes a struggle to get them to do their homework; it was for me too when I was their age. But mostly I was so taken with how interested they were in learning and how they were already planning their futures.
The other question that I really enjoyed was when they asked me what I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time. Not surprisingly, my first and emphatic piece of advice would be – do your homework! But I also explained that I would tell 13-year-old me to stay curious. To always ask questions, want to understand more, and know how and why as much as possible. I would tell me don’t lose your love of learning or think that learning only happens inside school or stops when you graduate high school or college. Learning is lifelong.
Thinking this way will help you in your career. Staying curious will help you graduate and get that first job. A lifelong commitment to learning will help you succeed and advance throughout your career, whatever job you have or industry you work in. I told them this is what I try to do every day, so I would definitely want to remind my younger self that it’s important to keep your mind open and be aware of opportunities to learn, wherever they may be.
I know about RISE Academy from volunteering there before with the Thompson Family Foundation (read more here). I love what they are doing there. I couldn’t’ agree more that preparing our young people for the careers of the future is critical. The numbers are almost staggering in terms of the projected supply and demand for people in the STEM industries.
It is especially great to have schools like this here in Silicon Valley, where developing the technology workforce of the future is so critical. RISE is serving two important parts of our community; bringing STEM education and strong support to underserved students AND developing the workforce of the future for our business community. I want to thank them for inviting me to visit them. I hope I inspired them as much as they inspired me!
Check out their website for more info and to support them in your own way.
If you’re interested in connecting with ATR for staffing and consulting services, reach out to us here.