Closing the Analytics Talent Gap – with Internships

 

Guest Post By Eric  Larson                                                                                            

If you’re working outside technology, “big data” is probably a murky concept. How big is big? Your teen might think the data they’re downloading into a game is big. Huge compilations of data aren’t intrinsically valuable, someone needs to pull out the insights. Maybe your teen can learn to be that someone.

Earlier this year, Creating IT Futures’ parent organization released the “CompTIA Quick Start Guide to Easing into Big Data.” While developing the guide, our research team discovered the statistic that nearly eight in 10 executives agree with the statement, “If we could harness all of our data, we’d be a much stronger business.”

Sounds simple enough but harnessing all that data is a vexing challenge for companies of all shapes and sizes.

First, there are the technical complexities. Big data – and the analytics based on that information – spans the hardware, software and services segments of the business intelligence markets.

Second, there’s the pace of development. International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that the big data market grew to more than $23 billion last year at an annually compounded rate of nearly 32 percent.

 

 

Graphic originally appeared in Information Management
 – April 28, 2017

But the crux of complication isn’t the intricacies of technology or the rate of change in an emerging field. It’s people. There aren’t enough qualified workers to fill available data management positions. In fact, the management firm McKinsey predicts the U.S. may face a 50 percent to 60 percent gap between the supply and demand of analytic talent as early as next year.

How can companies large and small move fast enough to avoid this impending pitfall? One way is by rethinking the traditional internship model.

Before delving into details, let’s establish a foundation of understanding. Internships need the “4 Ps” to succeed:

  • Project – Work for the intern that is challenging and valuable to the organization.
  • Place – A location for the intern to use as a base for conducting work, typically a facility operated by the company.
  • Personnel – Those who guide the intern and care about the intern’s success.
  • Payment – Compensation given to the intern for investing time and effort. Otherwise, the intern is a volunteer.

From the perspective of my organization, Creating IT Futures, we don’t consider any programs labeled “internships” to be valid unless both intern and sponsoring company take away value in the final analysis. And we believe all four of the attributes above must be present to generate a mutually beneficial outcome.

That’s where many digital businesses get stuck today. Not every company will make the resources to fulfill all 4 Ps available. And when this mindset takes hold, it’s usually a showstopper for an internship program.

Here are some ways this mentality stalls or stops internships these days in terms of the 4 Ps:

  • Project Ambivalence – Executives and managers who are pressed for time pose the question, “What could an intern do for us that has actual value?” and then devote little time to finding an answer.
  • No Place to Hang an Intern’s Hat – Businesses today operate in an increasingly mobile, virtual environment. Internship design must evolve to match or programs fall by the wayside.
  • Too Few Personnel – Digital transformation already consumes the attention of staff and strains available budgets. Supervising and mentoring is perceived as a long-term play that comes at too high a short-run cost.
  • Too Little Payment (Or None At All) – Per CompTIA’s “Business Relevance of IT in the SMB market,” small to mid-sized businesses “account for the vast majority of the nation’s business entities and serve as a key driver of job growth and innovation.” But the average SMB doesn’t feel comfortable shouldering all 4 Ps of an internship program.

Do these attitudes and constraints necessarily doom all internships? No. But if we don’t become more creative about internship design, an excellent means of nurturing talent could wither and die at a time when businesses need that method to thrive.

While big data and data analytics are very complex, the solution to this dilemma is not as complicated as one may expect. Why not divide responsibility for the 4 Ps across more than one entity?

Consider these four internship configurations as examples of better fits for today’s interns and companies:

  • Advocate Model – School districts, community colleges and/or non-profit organizations can provide counsel to sponsoring companies about appropriate Projects for interns. In some cases, these entities have programs offering templates and guide books.
  • Shared/Managed Model – Not all employers can facilitate an internship where the analytics team resides. A shared/managed model allows for part of the internship to be handled virtually in cooperation with the employer’s remote offices. One of the Ps – Place – shifts into the mobile realm.
  • Partner Model – Some large corporations can’t supervise an intern on location. But they can coordinate with their local channel partners, who have available Personnel, to offer students internships in analytics.
  • Aggregate Model– SMBs often lack resources to supervise and compensate interns and/or lack a large enough workload to keep an intern fully occupied. But SMBs can aggregate resources and projects with other small firms through advocate groups, as mentioned earlier – i.e., a school district or other community organization like a Chamber of Commerce. Payment is aggregated across participating businesses and may be subsidized by the advocate organization.

With enough coordination, one can imagine models in which more than one of the Ps is shifted to fit the needs of interns and businesses. That’s great – because adjusting to shifting environments and requirement is the best way to develop more data scientists – and eventually close the analytics talent gap.

Local colleges and technology training programs usually have relationships with companies that sponsor strong internship programs. Consider asking if a recent intern would meet with your teen to share their experiences. Or maybe a mentor from one of the companies would talk to your teen – she or he already believes in nurturing their future employees.

In the book Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, you’ll get other ideas about which professionals could talk to your teen about their careers as technologists – and maybe about big data too.

Columns by Eric Larson, senior director of Creating IT Futures’ signature initiative, IT Futures Labs, will appear regularly in Information Management in 2017. See the original article here.

San Diego Tech Events: October 2017

Check out these San Diego events and activities to learn about the different paths, skills, and education that might prepare your child for a career as a technologist. A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education outlines many other ways to talk about tech careers with your kids.

  1. Student Tech Workshops

Sponsored by the University of California San Diego.

2. 2017 HACU Youth Leadership Development Forum for Student in STEM, 10/27/17

Free, for 6th-12th graders, sponsored by National University.

Conduct lab experiments, watch demos, meet professors and professionals, learn about career paths and college acceptance and success in STEM majors.

3. STEM Minds Start Early, 10/27/17

Free, for parents and teachers.

Hear national and local early STEM researchers and experts discuss how to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and stay involved in through STEM.

4. AP Computer Science Test Prep Course, 1 Saturday a month, starting 10/14/17

Students 11th-12th grade, sponsored by GirlTECH.

This course will introduce basic Object Oriented Programming concepts using the College Board’s subset of the popular Java programming language as they work toward mastering design and programming skills. Assumes no previous Java programming experience but will help students gain familiarity and confidence in Object Oriented Programming design and implementation.

 

Can’t make any of these events? Check out this list of books with tech projects, developed by the Chicago Public Library for the March 2017 Teen Tech Week.

Read the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education  to find other ways to talk to your child about the possibilities of a career as a technologist.

Pittsburgh Tech Events: October 2017

Check out these Pittsburgh events and activities to learn about the different paths, skills, and education that might prepare your child for a career as a technologist. A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education outlines many other ways to talk about tech careers with your kids.

  1. STEM Mad Scientists, 10/14/17

For K-5th graders, sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs are hand-ons experiences that engage and interest children through active scientific learning. While using observation and critical thinking, children will explore different scientific concepts.

2) STEM Imagination Builders, 10/16/17

For families with children 2-10 years old, sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Imagine, design, construct! Using STEM skills to build with blocks and structural toys, children develop critical thinking, teamwork, motor and communication skills.

3) ChemFest Celebration, 10/27/17

For middle and high schoolers, sponsored by the Carnegie Science Center.

2017 event highlights geochemistry and explores the reasons why chemistry matters through interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, exciting presentations, and interactions with professionals in science, technology, engineering and math.

 

In the Pittsburgh area but not in the city? Check out these events in the Homestead area:

  1. StoryTime STEM-Packs, 10/17/17

Free, for teachers of K-2nd graders, sponsored by AIU Math & Science Collaborative (MSC)

The network will discuss pedagogical principles of effective STEM education and involve you in a number of STEM activities relevant to your grade band. Includes the use of STORYTIME STEM-PACKS, an educational innovation adaptable to a variety of educational environments.

2. AeroLab STEM-based workshop, 10/25/17

For Middle and High School teachers of Science, Technology Engineering and Math.  AIU Math & Science Collaborative (MSC)

The program consists of several STEM lessons using simple model aircraft as platforms to provide hands-on experience for students to practice math skills and science concepts. Participating teachers get a set of free activities and materials supported by Arconic (formerly Alcoa) Foundation and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).

Can’t make any of these events? Check out this list of books with tech projects, developed by the Chicago Public Library for the March 2017 Teen Tech Week.

Read the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education  to find other ways to talk to your child about the possibilities of a career as a technologist.

 

Tampa Tech Events: October 2017

Checkout these Tampa events and activities to learn about the different paths, skills, and education that might prepare your child for a career as a technologist. A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education outlines many other ways to talk about tech careers with your kids.

  1. GETSMART Fall 2017, 10/12/17

Free, for 4th-12th Graders, sponsored by Tampa Bay Technology Leadership Association (TBTLA), and Information & Technology Management department at The University of Tampa

Interactive tech-related activities, meet professionals in STEM, raffle prizes.

 

2) STEAM Saturday, 10/14/17

For families, sponsored by Hillsbourough County Public Liberary Cooperative

Hillsbourough County Public Library offers many programs around STEM topics children, teens and adults. Tinkercad, free 3D printing design tool. STEAM Saturdays, TechTakeApart.

 

Can’t make any of these events? Check out this list of books with tech projects, developed by the Chicago Public Library for the March 2017 Teen Tech Week.

Read the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education  to find other ways to talk to your child about the possibilities of a career as a technologist.

Technologists Make Good Data Scientists – Could Your Teen?

By Eric Larson

Let’s face it, the term “data scientist” doesn’t inspire envy in most teens, if they’ve even heard it. It’s not Silicon Valley hot-shot, performer, athlete, astronaut, Nobel prize winner. But in 2017, there aren’t enough good data scientists. While your child might not find fame (or infamy) working as a data scientist, he or she will be sought after by companies who know how rare they are.

Finding talented data scientists is no easy task. In fact, a recent Information Management article by Dermot O’Connor, cofounder of the cloud provider Boxever, called good data scientists “unicorns” because “it is so rare to find professionals who possess all the right skills to meet today’s requirements.”

The challenge is likely to become even tougher with time. O’Connor, in his article, cited an observation made by management consulting firm McKinsey that the U.S. may face a 50 percent to 60 percent gap between the supply and demand of analytic talent as soon as 2018.

(Graphic originally appeared in Information Management – February 16, 2017)

And with so many companies recruiting data scientists, it’s imperative that we start working now to attract the next generation of talent into data science and other tech occupations.

But how do you even spot someone who might have what it takes? What makes a great data scientist?

Let me list a few attributes. A data scientist is someone who:

Thinks “Strategy First.” The first definition of “strategy” is a “plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” Technologists favor strategies before tactics – i.e., actions and activities implemented to achieve an objective. Rather than a reflection of values, this intellectual sequence is a simple acknowledgement of the way most technologists – and data scientists – are wired. Before they start working with technology or put technology to work, technologists step back and plan. So do the best data scientists.

Has a passion for solving problems. Technologists don’t see problems as obstacles to avoid; they consider problems opportunities for solutions. Their innate curiosity leads them to confront challenges even when they are not obvious. And their willingness to take initiative drives them to explore ideas, options and scenarios as a means of identifying and designing constructive solutions. This is the same reason that the best data scientists don’t create analytics for questions that don’t need answers.

Sees technology in a constructive context. Technologists appreciate that, in the broadest sense, technology is a tool whose value is determined by its application for the benefit and assistance of people – whether in their personal or professional lives. The best data scientists know the same can be said of analytics in their many forms.

Believes tech is about humans, not hardware. Technologists see gadgetry as solutions that serve people. No gadget has value unless it helps a customer, colleague, citizen, patient or any other type of person a technologist may encounter during a career. Technologists believe the measure of a job well done is the benefit the technology solution brings the people who experienced the problem. So, the best data scientists concentrate not only on developing analytics, but on helping people visualize information.

Values respect, cooperation and collaboration. Technologists maintain a positive, helpful disposition on the job and in relationships in or out of the workplace. They respect their employers’ codes of conduct, appreciate the contributions of colleagues and understand that going rogue isn’t the best way to analyze a problem, execute a strategy or implement a solution in a business context. This is the reason a technologist’s standards of behavior do not tolerate racism, sexism, ageism or any other approach that demeans others inside or outside an organization. The best data scientists do the same, because to do otherwise would be to ignore or dismiss the insights they worked so diligently to deliver.

Who is inspiring the young people of today to be technologists of tomorrow?

CompTIA’s NextUp initiative, which is managed by Creating IT Futures, is partnering with three programs targeting middle-school students in the U.S.:

  • TechGirlz, workshops for middle-school age girls;
  • FUSE, a school-based series of tech-related challenges developed by Northwestern University;
  • And, Hack Your Healthworkshops, developed by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS).

These efforts and others like them will help create a generation of technologists who not only understand how analytics function, but who help bring to realization a data science industry that works, competes and innovates for decades to come.

And with the book Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, you can see how your child’s thinking and talents line up with the characteristics of good data scientists. Maybe you have a data scientist unicorn.

What’s the saying? “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

Eric Larson is senior director the IT Futures Labs and a regular contributor to Information Management, a top IT industry media outlet. See the original article here.

Chicago Tech Events: October 2017

Checkout these Chicago events and activities to learn about the different paths, skills, and education that might prepare your child for a career as a technologist. A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education outlines many other ways to talk about tech careers with your kids.

1) {WISTEM} C5 Showcase, 10/9/17 

For people interested in women entrepreneurs, hosted by WiSTEM.

“Celebrate thirteen amazing woman entrepreneurs who have spent 12 weeks of hard work, grit, and passion in the 5th WiSTEM cohort. Hear them pitch their businesses to the Chicago community.”

2) Topics in STEMinism CIRTLCast: Women in STEM Careers Panel (free online event) 10/18/17

Free, for women, sponsored by CIRTL Network.

“Hear from women in STEM in various stages of career. Weekly Wednesday meetings (1-2pm) cover topics in STEMinism series examines the various ways in which social and cultural contexts shape the experiences of women in male-dominated STEM fields.”

3) ACT-W, 10/19/17-10/20/17 

For women and minorities, sponsored by ChickTech.

“Hosted by ChickTech, a nonprofit organization committing to increasing the participation of girls and women in Stem, ACT-W is a two day conference of hands-on workshops, speaking sessions, one-on-one coaching.”

 

Can’t make any of these events? Check out this list of books with tech projects, developed by the Chicago Public Library for the March 2017 Teen Tech Week.

Read the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education  to find other ways to talk to your child about the possibilities of a career as a technologist.

Check out the T in STEM Tech Events Calendar

A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education is designed to help you understand the different paths, skills, and education that might prepare your child for a career as a technologist. One key way to widen your understanding is by attending events in the field.

Some events are designed for students, while many are targeted at women, minorities, and underrepresented populations. Nonprofits, professional associations (such as CompTIA’s Creating IT Futures Foundations) and large tech companies all sponsor events to build a pipeline of talented employees.

Even when kids aren’t the focus, parents and educators can benefit from these events, since they’re great for meeting potential mentors. Mentors contribute so much to the education and motivation of new learners and people joining the field.

The TinSTEM Calendar includes events for students and events focused on encouraging minorities to advance in tech fields.

Want to help your child learn at home, online? Girls in Tech is offering a free, 8-week online course on building a website using WordPress. Register by 10/18/2017, and check out their other classes offered through their Global Classroom.

We don’t endorse any of the events profiled or included on the calendar. We just provide them for your information – we do the searching so you don’t have to.

Read the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education  to find other ways to talk to your child about the possibilities of a career as a technologist.

STEMapalooza Builds Confidence in Girl Scouts

Parents want resources to keep their daughters engaged in tech activities, and many groups have a similar mission. The world’s largest IT industry association CompTIA maintains a hub to find many of them. CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology Community (AWIT) is a database of organizations that introduce girls and women to the possibilities in technology, and then support them as they grow more involved. But you may have no idea how “support” translates into an actual activity, which makes it hard to encourage your daughter to participate.

Here’s a great example of an event that successfully engages girls in tech.

In 2017, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana held their 6th annual STEMapalooza, with the support of industry professionals and organizations like CompTIA.

Skies were gray and rain was falling on the spring day when more than 400 young women and girls descended on the Friendship Center in the south suburbs of Chicago. The weather didn’t deter them as they came to attend STEMapalooza, presented by the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Participants from kindergarten to high school ages enjoyed presentations and panels on different topics relating to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Girls could visit with more than 30 exhibitors from across the Chicagoland area to hear how their organizations engage in STEM businesses, industries and education.

Creating IT Futures, the charitable organization committed to helping people prepare for and succeed in IT careers was a big supporter.  The organization gave away copies of the book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, written for parents of budding technologists like these Girl Scouts.

Andrea Rios McMillan, the CompTIA manager of workforce strategy and innovation, moderated a panel for the Scouts. She brought together three generations of women technologists: Sandra Ashworth, global director of channels, solutions and warranty for Unisys; Megan Sprangers, vice president of business intelligence for PEAK6 Investments; and Toriana Williams, an instructor for TechGYRLS. Each panelist described the unique pathway she has followed during her career, and shared stories of the people that sparked her interest in working with technology.

Research by CompTIA indicates young women can play a critical role in closing the current IT skills gap. So in addition to distributing “T in STEM” books, Pathways magazines and other materials about CompTIA programs, the CompTIA exhibit highlighted the “Rosie the Riveter” pop-up display used in CompTIA’s #MakeTechHerStory campaign.

STEMapalooza participants got a free red polka-dot bandana and took pictures with their faces in the pop-up display. This iconic image helped them visualize themselves breaking new ground with their careers, like modern-day Rosie the Riveters.

Candice Schaefer, director of programs for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, said that STEMapalooza is one of their largest and most successful events.

“Our first year we had 200 girls and every year that number has grown larger and larger,” Schaefer said, explaining that attendance has reached the building’s capacity for the last four years, with a waiting list.

She believes this trend is a clear sign of the curiosity girls and young women have about STEM careers, and one of the missions of Girls Scouts is to nurture this interest and others.

“Girl Scouts is a way girls can safely take risks,” Schaefer elaborated. “It helps girls gain courage to back up their interests and skills, like STEM, so that they’re better prepared to go out into the world and be confident in what they know and enjoy doing.”

The book Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, now a tool for Girl Scouts in different parts of the U.S., offers a clear path for parents to explore the possibilities in tech careers with their girls (and boys). Download your copy here.

Celine Dirkes is an actor, writer and social media manager studying at Rutgers University.

Creating Diversity by Disrupting STEM Stereotypes for Teenagers – Especially Girls

Heard your daughter or her friend say she doesn’t like technology? While 31% of teens call technology “fun,” that percentage is much lower for girls. It’s not because of aptitude. The reasons girls aren’t interested in tech tend to be environmental.

Few parents want to limit their child’s options for careers. You want each child to find a place to thrive, mentally, emotionally and financially. But you need to know what discourages kids from getting involved in technology. And, if you’re working with your daughter or other girls, you’ll see these factors impact girls and minorities harder than boys. But that’s changing.

Building robots and telling digital stories are some of the fun ways kids learn about technology, but many middle schoolers — especially girls — steer clear of these classes, per a new study. Some think it’s “boring,” and others think computers are just for boys. Others can’t find someone like them working in tech. It’s those types of notions keeping girls from pursuing technology as an interest or a career.

“Preconceived notions of what a STEM career entails may be derailing the interest of young people, especially girls,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer for Accenture, which surveyed more than 8,500 young people, parents and teachers for the study.

Eleven is the critical age when girls start to choose activities besides technology and science – so that’s exactly when groups focused on getting more girls in STEM jump in. Through mentoring, entrepreneurial projects and hands-on playtime, girls get a look at how much fun there is in technology, and how many career options are open to them, too.

Shaping New STEM Attitudes along the Gender Dimension

Tech organizations around the world are upending the traditional tech space to personalize the space for girls and women. The Stemettes, a UK-based group, explain “why the future is teenage girls” in their new documentary, “Eat. Sleep. STEM. Repeat.” Here in the U.S., TechGirlz creates hands on projects that give girls a sense of community, creativity and other constructive feelings that keep them excited about technology.

In Chicago, Latin@ Techies holds civic hacking events every week to improve neighborhoods. Another UK organization, Girls in STEM, stages events that reach thousands of girls, aged 11 to 13, throughout London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Now there are so many active groups that CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology Community (AWIT) is building a database of organizations related to bringing girls and women into technology.

“It’s a tapestry of organizations,” said Cathy Alper, AWIT’s community chair. “Think of it like a quilt. All the different organization are different quilt pieces, and when you stand back to look at it, you can see that they all fit together to form a unified piece.”

To foster interest in technology, AWIT offers Dream IT, a toolbox of resources to show young women the benefits of tech careers. The first tool, Intro to Tech, explores job types and salaries in Career Areas. Girls who want real-life examples of women working with technology can check out Real IT Stories, which features dozens of stories and photos from across the globe.

“Dream IT is a full package of resources to help women and girls understand more about technology,” Alper explained. “Projects like this help us bring in and retain more girls in computer science.”

Parents play a critical role in helping kids bust tech myths. In the Accenture survey, many adult respondents noted that their kids don’t see a connection between robotics classes and their long-term career plans. More than 50 percent said their kids don’t see how STEM classes will lead to good jobs.

That’s where Launching Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education fits.

“Anyone who understands technology and wants to use it for a larger purpose should consider a career in technology,” Eaton wrote in the book’s first chapter, which is focused on busting myths about tech careers. (You can read our 7-part “Bust the Tech Myths” blog series here.)

Reference the book to explore how your daughter’s strengths and interests fit with tech careers. You can encourage girls to try activities that lead toward tech, and you can push your schools to change too. Right now, you can change a girls’ future – spend 10 minutes on the Dream IT site to find nearby programs that focus on bringing girls into tech. Get involved, and share the information with girls, teachers and guidance counselors.

Read profiles of women in technology to your daughter. Get your copy of Launching Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education here.

Special Correspondent Michelle Lange is a writer, designer and business owner living in Chicago. 

Being the MVP in Your Tech Career

What parent doesn’t want their kid to be an MVP in their chosen field? In a sport, or creative field or any hobby, you have to know what capabilities matter. You might be surprised that in tech, it’s not all about stats.

Our author, Charles Eaton, tells a story in the book (How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology) about keeping his then seven-year-old son’s aspirations for the NBA in check. While it’s possible that the young man could make it, the odds are against him. He might become very skilled and work incredibly hard, but there are only a few hundred NBA players active in any given season. During the NBA playoffs, Verizon cleverly mentioned that fact in an ad promoting STEM careers.

Still, Charles wanted him to love basketball both as a player and a fan, so he encouraged him to watch the best players and absorb the many life lessons the game can offer. In 2017, he was especially excited to share with his son the nightly on-court exploits of Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. You might have heard that in the 2017 season Westbrook broke a record for the most triple-doubles in a season (that’s double digits in points, rebounds and assists in the same game). The record was held for 56 years by the great Oscar Robertson. And Westbrook averaged a triple-double throughout the season, which had only ever been done by Robertson.

Before he was named 2017 MVP, there was plenty of debate about whether Westbrook deserved it. There were good arguments for other contenders such as James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. The decision really depends on how we define Most Valuable Player and what we expect from our MVPs.

Watching Westbrook and listening to the MVP debate got us thinking about what employers want in their MVP tech professionals. And while there may not be a clear equivalent to the triple-double in tech work, there are three traits that always seem to rise to the top when we talk to employers about great team members. If we judged an MVP award in tech, we would consider these characteristics.

Problem Solving – That’s the equivalent of scoring points in basketball because the best problem solvers are the stars of the tech game. Solving problems is about developing solutions that customers want and need. Sounds simple, but it takes creativity and nimble, adaptive thinking. The best tech professionals can see a problem from different angles and create a solution with a full understanding of the technology and the customer.

Collaboration and Communication
 – The assist in basketball is all about making your teammates better and putting them in a position to succeed. In tech, collaboration and communication are skills of increasing value as tech has moved from dark rooms in an office basement to being front-and-center at any enterprise. Winning solutions designed around the technology connect to the needs of people. And an MVP tech professional must create those solutions by leveraging collaboration with team members, listening to the customer, and communicating along the way.

Dynamic Analysis
 – Rebounding is the dirty work in basketball. The rebounders don’t get the glory, but they get the respect of their teammates and coaches. Great rebounding is about seeing the situation unfold and positioning yourself for success. Even at 6’4”, Westbrook finished in the top 10 of all NBA players in rebounds in 2017 because he knew how to be in the right place at the right moment. In tech, the equivalent to rebounding is dynamic analysis. It’s a combination of persistent curiosity, predictive imagination and relentless effort. The best tech professionals constantly learn and stay aware of the changing tech landscape.

With a copy of the Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education, you explore if your child is strong in key tech MVP characteristics: problem-solving, communication, collaboration and dynamic analysis.  Get a copy here.