An Open Letter to Parents on Techies Day

Dear Parents,

Today is National Techies Day. It’s a day to celebrate all the cool things we can do with technology and inspire kids to consider a career in technology.

I read article about how Generation Z is most adept at technology. They’re the first generation who grew up with the internet, as apposed to adopting it later in life. While Millennials (my generation) were the first generation to adopt the internet into their lives. We still remember a time without it.

I clearly remember as a kid pretending my Polly Pocket was a flip computer. I thought we finally reached that stage in 1st grade when my dad let me play with his electronic dictionary. Then I thought we reached it in high school when my dad let me borrow his HP Pocket (this was right before the release of the iPhone). Now I think, we might finally have the cool hand held device of my childhood imagination with the Microsoft Duo.

Just because I had an interest in devices and gravitated naturally to computers doesn’t mean I was a natural expert. I still had to take classes in web design, study information systems, and put my knowledge to the test building websites and participating in business use case competitions.

I know, my two year old can point and click to play YouTube videos and flip through pictures on my phone. But that doesn’t mean he understands why he’s able to point and click with a finger. He doesn’t understand how swiping changes the photo on the screen.

I imagine the same thing will happen as he gets older and asks to have social media (or opens a social media profile without my knowledge). Just because we can use certain apps and devices doesn’t mean we understand them or can build our own.

According to a study from Dell, 80% of Gen-Z aspire to work with cutting-edge technology and 91% say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers. However, this is a generation that is entering the workforce with less experience than previous generations.

That’s why I’m excited about National Techies Day! I encourage you to talk to your kids about the apps they use and games they play. Ask them how they think they work. Challenge them to build their own. With No Code tools, you don’t need to be a techie expert in order to help your kids build an app from scratch.

Technologies are changing the world

Smart vending machine powered by SAP

Working in the field of technology is an exciting one. I constantly have to learn new tools, ideas, and methods over my career. I have to keep a lookout for what’s coming on the horizon as well as work with what my clients have in the present.

“Working in the field of technology is an exciting one. I constantly have to learn new tools, ideas, and methods over my career.”

It can be scary to think of our kids graduating to working world filled of automation and AI. You might think, what kind of job can my kid get? What hope for a career do they have?

The great thing is, yes, technology impacts every sector, every industry, and every job. It’s true, technology does replace some jobs people used to do. But it also helps us do more and reach higher levels of innovation and experimentation that we ever could before. In fact, some studies suggest 85% of jobs in 2030 won’t have been invented yet.

I believe it. My parents told me what I would do wasn’t invented yet, and while no exactly new, I did work with some cutting edge virtual reality technology.

virtual reality surgery
Manipulating organs in VR with my hands.

Our kids are going to work in a world of AI, automation, robots, digital humans, virtual worlds, and space travel. That’s all the more reason we should encourage them now to foster an interest in how the technology in their lives works.

Designers are getting good at seamlessly implementing tech into our lives. I see kids ask Amazon Alexa to play the “peanut butter jelly song” as if they were asking a parent. They gravitate to tablets and turn on our cars with the PUSH TO START button. Technology makes their lives easy but we shouldn’t let them get away without the sense of wonder WHY and HOW it is this way.

I’ve seen technology build products on assembly lines, reading and reporting on each part of the end product. I saw how embedded systems can tell where seeds are planted on a farmer’s field. I walked through virtual worlds and interacted with other humans as digital avatars.

How we’re able to do this fascinates me. I love working in an industry that improves people lives and businesses with technology. I also am glad to understand how it works and in what way it can cause society harm. But I won’t be able to work forever.

It’s up to our kids to have higher asperations than social media influencer. We needs our kids to have human-to-human social skills and the soft skills that only people can recreate. We need our kids to be able to set their devices down to experience the world so that they can be inspired to develop the next great tech.

I love my career in technology. Because of technology I’ve been able to work remotely around the world. I was able to seamlessly transition from job titles, companies, and industries as my life changed.

To College or Not To College?

We live in a time when we’re starting to question the ROI of college. Can college still prepare kids for a successful future or is it just a debt machine? I think college is a tool and it needs to be used wisely. Getting a degree in STEM is a great start but I also think the old school thinking of Steve Jobs, studying calligraphy and humanities is just as important.

Students use VR, 3D Printing at the Grand Valley State University Technology Showcase

I think kids should still go to college but they shouldn’t count on their degree to be enough. Go to college with the intent to build and experiment. Try out the classes you take and Major program you’re in along the way so that you have a resume started by the time you graduate. Learning and building up a reservoir of ideas, history, and STEM is the corner stone of an exciting future in technology.

College no longer trains students for a functional job that they stay in their whole careers. The world doesn’t work that way any more. Kids going into college need to think of it as “the ability to be fluid in your skill set and in your knowledge. It’s imperative that universities teach students how to teach themselves.”

Technology and the Future

The great thing about technology is that every field uses it. So no matter your child’s interest, there’s a place for them to apply tech skills. Whether it’s digital or robotic, working with AI or AR, kids today can find a career that satisfies their passion while building a technologically solid future.

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