by Robert Wiltshire – Software Cornwall Education Outreach
Selling a Career in Software to Students
Over the last two and a half years I have been building up the connections with schools around the county. Most secondary schools have received assemblies for most year groups and we have been in attendance at their careers fairs. These are the opportunities for me to sell the industry and lifestyle to the students. You’d think that wouldn’t be too difficult. Let’s be honest when I meet all of you, you all seem the most amazing bunch of talented and happy people. But how do I put this across to a room of 200+ students? In 15 minutes…
Over the time that I have been taking assemblies, my ‘production’ has changed. Like you with your Post-It notes and Agile workflows I also appraise how my audience reacts. Accept feedback from my end users, the teachers, and observe how other companies perform their outreach. The teachers have been the best source of feedback. Not always positive but certainly constructive. One in particular from Callington Community College produced such an amazing career assembly of their own that it made me completely rewrite my assembly.
I have learned it is not just about what it is we do. How we chose our work or who we work for. It’s also about thinking about your life ahead as more than just getting a job. It’s about where you live, who you know and the experiences you can have. It’s about getting the students to appraise what it is they want from their life in the future. That there is a point to school and education and now is the time to place what you know about yourself into the puzzle that will be your career in the future.
So I’ve softened them up and got them thinking. Where is this going?
Then I start showing them how our industry in their locality could be something they might be interested in. It’s all around them, though they aren’t aware of it. Pretty much all of them have never heard of Goonhilly and let’s face it Goonhilly has a massive presence on the landscape. Few are aware that you can earn a decent living in Cornwall and probably most are unaware that living in Cornwall means that you’ll probably be poorly paid. A lot of teachers are surprised about the industry. One even applied for a job with one of you after one of my visits.
The assemblies also cover Software Cornwall’s offering to students. The free Tech Jams every month, three award-winning Work Experience weeks a year, links with the colleges to encourage further education and the Open Tech Challenge.
And then I get onto what the industry does. This leads back to the title of this post.
So What Exactly Do You Do?
The assemblies, talks and career networking I carry out uses examples from all your websites of what it is you get up to. Remembering I’m selling this to children as young as 7 to as old as 16 on a wet Monday morning. Not the best time to think about your futures. So CRM or backend server set up is not something that sells very well. It’s those glitzy, ‘glamorous’ products and services that you put together that I use to catch their eye.
So this is the whole point of this post. What exactly do you do? Is there something you are up to that I can briefly talk about? A product that would catch the eye of that sleepy youngster sitting in the third row with a damp jacket from the rain that was falling on the way to school that morning. Can you share a few images and a bit of information to renew the presentation?
Can you inspire that youngster to think, “I like that. I could do that!”
If you have anything to share with us please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org