Did you know that this week is College Awareness Week in Ireland? The aim of this week is to celebrate the benefits of going to college, to support students to become ‘college ready’ and to showcase local role models.

Why was College Awareness Week started in Ireland?

“Going to college is becoming more and more important. A college education helps students to fulfil their potential, allows them to undertake a course of study which can be both fascinating and challenging, and helps them to secure employment and decent living standards in the future. Individuals and society benefit from increased levels of educational attainment.” #CAW16

At Verify, as a technology recruitment consultancy, we’re passionate about the future of the technology industry and the career development opportunities for Ireland’s graduates. As the facilitators of The Ada Lovelace Initiative which promotes technology careers to female students nationwide, our mission is to reach as many female students as possible to help them become aware of the diversity of career opportunities available for them in technology.

If there is one thing that we have learned from our work with The Ada Lovelace Initiative and from speaking to many parents and STEM enthusiasts in the technology community, it’s that regardless of whether an adult is confident in their STEM knowledge or not, knowing about tech careers and trying to inspire teenagers to listen and check them out can be two very different stories!

Is there a teen you know who you would like to help discover STEM careers? Do you think you could help to inspire a young person to consider technology careers this College Awareness Week? The best place to start is to know what resources are out there to help and also which role you can play in supporting a teen’s search for college courses.

1. Parents – Shun the Stereotypes & Tackle Misconceptions!

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Think your teen isn’t listening? Think again! In a recent survey conducted by the Science Foundation of Ireland, 51% of students stated that they were influenced by their parents when it came to choosing a college course and that parents had advised them to choose courses that would suit their personalities.

Challenging misconceptions about STEM can be a very powerful role for parents. This is important as stereotypes can prevent students from realising that STEM careers offer a role for everyone. Adults should consider  their  own  fears  or  negative  perceptions about STEM and avoid passing these on to their children, relatives and friends.

It is also important to note the differences between Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – each element of STEM relates to the other but the career opportunities within STEM are so diverse and there is such variety on offer depending on the individual’s interests!   different Just because one pathway in STEM doesn’t interest your teen doesn’t mean another mightn’t inspire them if you keep looking at the options!

If you encourage students to explore these opportunities, they can make informed choices for their future. The SFI has published a Parent’s Guide to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which may be useful resource to enable you to challenge stereotypes, help open a teen’s eyes and encourage them to explore STEM opportunities!

2. Get the girls on board!

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Women and girls are still vastly underrepresented in STEM subjects today. In Europe, 55% of all students are female, but only 37% of students enrolled in the science, mathematics and computing fields are women. However, this does not mean STEM is a men-only career option.

There are many great initiatives in Ireland currently working hard to promote STEM careers to young women. The Ada Lovelace Initiative promotes technology careers to female students across Ireland. The aim of A.L.I is to connect female professionals working in technology with Transition Year secondary school students to present to students an insight into working in technology by telling their story. Teachers can request a free role model visit here all year.

Smart Futures is a collaborative government-industry-education programme that provides second-level school students in Ireland with information about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Secondary school teachers, guidance counsellors and TY coordinators can make a request for a school visit from a male or female guest speaker at any time during the school year.

Girls Hack Ireland is a program developed by The Insight Centre for Data Analytics (@insight_centre) with the aim of generating knowledge & interest among girls to pursue the academic disciplines of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects through creative, interactive learning. Follow the Girls Hack Ireland on Twitter to see any cool events they have coming up in your area

3. Show them the money!


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Just for fun! The question of salary is often one that enlists quite the reaction from The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models! Students certainly understand the value of money and the value of steady income after college.

If you mention that the starting salary for many Computer Science graduates in their first junior positions can be around €30,000, it certainly won’t do any harm!

Another common perk that can pique a student’s interest is the fact that technology skills can enable professionals to travel and try different roles internationally should they wish to do so.

4. Don’t go it alone – show teens Ireland’s free resources!

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The sky’s the limit when it comes to working in STEM. There is a fantastic tool for students on the Smart Futures website which can really help to inspire and personalise the career search for a young person as the search is filtered by favourite subjects and interests. It’s a great resource for parents too as you can enter your teen’s subjects and interests yourself to explore options and learn more to help with your teen’s search.

When it comes closer to the CAO date – parents can  be prepared to help by checking out important websites such as the CAO to familiarise themselves with the process.

In terms of getting hands on experiences with technology – CoderDojo is a great way for children of all ages to get a taste of programming in a sociable fun setting. CoderDojo is a worldwide movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment. Boys and girls can attend CoderDojo clubs across Ireland – find your nearest dojo here.

5. Take the #TechTeamTour!

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Variety is the spice of life! The #TechTeamTour by The Ada Lovelace Initiative & Smart Futures wants to help teens discover cool technology career options. Technology has the ability to change the world, making it better for everyone. Technology is and belongs everywhere; at music festivals, in video games, on college campuses, in apps, on film sets on TV and at sporting events.

The first part of the #TechTeamTour is visual guide to some popular technology roles which demonstrates how the technology industry alone has a wealth of opportunities to suit different personalities. It is based on popular teen app Snapchat in order to demonstrate to students how technology roles affect a service they use themselves!

The next part of the #TechTeamTour is a video series shot in popular technology companies Udemy, Altify and Tapadoo in Ireland. Inspire teens to to go behind the scenes at Irish technology companies by asking them to take the #TechTeamTour on Youtube!

Send any teens you know the #TechTeamTour video below and ask them if their ‘eyebrows are on fleek’ – it never fails to grab a teen’s attention! 🙂

Check out www.CollegeAware.ie to learn more about College Awareness Week which aims to celebrate the benefits of going to college, to support students to become ‘college ready’ and to showcase local role models.