No kid ever wants to wake up early on the weekend, I promise you. Saturdays and Sundays are like a little slice of summer — time to sleep-in and forget about class. So, imagine my reaction when I rolled over, bright and early, to turn off my alarm last Saturday. I had spent hours working towards this Saturday, and I had known for months that I would be waking up early, yet no amount of mental preparation could make me ready to sacrifice my day.
Fast-forward an hour. I arrived at Technovate, an event sponsored by Alpha Charter School and Silicon Valley Talent Partnership (SVTP) that aimed to further STEM education and provide opportunities in tech to underserved students, to find dozens of kids and parents in line, waiting to start their Saturdays. I had worked for many weeks to improve marketing materials for this event, and seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces made me realize that all the work I had done was going to make a difference. I was barely awake, and yet here were a handful of kids who were eagerly waiting to get started. The clouds and the rain were not going to stop the kids, and especially the parents, from taking advantage of this unique opportunity. I was ready to start my day.
Before long, 400+ attendees filled up a tent on the blacktop. Speakers captivated their large audience by telling stories of their own experiences in the industry and encouraging students to pursue careers in tech. Many speakers had once been in the shoes of those in the audience – underserved and inexperienced – making the speakers particularly impactful. By standing on stage and answering questions from families in attendance, speakers proved to students that they too could one day find a well-paying job in the diverse and growing tech industry.
Students were also given opportunities to get their hands on tech. A series of workshops demonstrated to students the opportunity and power of technology. Companies and organizations such as Google, LinkedIn, SAP, and Stanford volunteered to orchestrate workshops highlighting prominent technology from their perspective businesses. From virtual reality, coding with Minecraft to Design Thinking, students were exposed to the sides of technology not normally available to them. The workshops proved to be especially meaningful, as they demonstrated to students and parents that a career in tech can be both exciting and lucrative.
As a student myself, I found the mentoring session to be the most meaningful part of the day. At the end of an already eventful day, students and parents were given the opportunity to meet with mentors from numerous facets of tech and ask questions about their jobs, provide insights into their industry, and share their journey. We worked diligently to bring mentors from the community who shared similar backgrounds and upbringing. Hearing from professionals who were once in their shoes helped students realize they could achieve a successful career in tech.
Upon conclusion, it was apparent from the hundreds of smiling faces that Technovate was a success. Families left well informed and optimistic, and many asked when the next Technovate was happening. I personally left feeling accomplished and satisfied, knowing I had worked on a worthy cause and donated my Saturday to better my community.
Watch a video highlighting the event.
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Blog by Aaron Miller, SVTP Marketing Intern. Aaron is a Junior at Santa Clara University studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship