CompTIA’s Member Communities Support Underrepresented Demographics in Tech

 

The book, How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM works to close the tech skills gap by helping launch the careers of young technologists from underrepresented communities. We applaud two CompTIA member communities, who are financially supporting charities that encourage women and ethnic minorities to pursue information technology careers.

The Advancing Diversity in Technology community donated $5,000 to Black Tech Mecca, whose mission is to inspire the development of thriving black tech ecosystems to ensure that black people are full participants in the global technology sector. The nonprofit organization uses data to paint a clearer picture of black participation in local tech ecosystems, and then identifies impediments to the engagement and mobility of black tech workers, crafting strategies with local stakeholders for removing barriers and creating opportunities.

The Advancing Women in IT community donated $5,000 to Girl Develop It, a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and everyday lives.

The communities’ respective donations are part of an annual process by CompTIA to give back to local communities through philanthropy, bringing positive awareness to selected charities and CompTIA, and acting as a way of encouraging individual charitable service.

This year, CompTIA’s member communities and councils chose to support 17 nonprofit organizations, giving a total of $170,000 to philanthropic causes.

Promoting gender and ethnic diversity in IT was a clear theme among this year’s contributions by CompTIA communities. Collectively, several communities gave $35,000 to Genesys Works, which helps disadvantaged youths realize their full potential through workplace experience. They also donated $25,000 to TechGirlz, which encourages middle-school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower future careers.

Fabian Elliott, the co-founder and CEO of Black Tech Mecca, said the CompTIA contribution would help the organization continue to identify and break down the institutional barriers that discourage people of color from pursuing or advancing in tech careers.

“The contribution from CompTIA is a big help as we continue to disrupt the status quo in building more inclusive tech ecosystems,” he said. “We will use the proceeds to further refine our research on black tech ecosystem development, continue flagship education programming, and stand up our advocacy platform. We also just released our Chicago report, which is first-ever, fully comprehensive black tech ecosystem assessment for a city. CompTIA was one of our sponsors for this report.”

“I am proud to be a part of an organization such as CompTIA for making the donation to Black Tech Mecca. The work Black Tech Mecca is doing to increase the participation of minorities in the tech sector is amazing. The analysis provided in their report, Unleashing Chicago’s Black Tech Ecosystem, presents information on where we stand today and points us in a direction that will not only improve our local economy but the future of our children and grandchildren for generations to come,” said Randolph Carnegie, an executive council member of Advancing Diversity in Technology (ADIT) and president and managing director of Ken-Kor Consulting Inc. “It takes resources to fund objective analysis such as this and I am proud to be a part of CompTIA’s ADIT community.”

Fellow ADIT member Nicole Williams, managing director of Sajiton, echoed Carnegie’s comments: “Black Tech Mecca has been extremely instrumental with its data, research, and ecosystem strategies on how to guide by identifying the reason and actionable solutions on how to close the diversity gap within the technology industry. Their report is an example of how the think-tank adds some valuable insight and guidance on how to engage in closing the technical candidate shortage gap by increasing diversity in the technology industry.”

“The technology industry has seen rapid change in everything from mobile payment to wearables gadgets with this comes more ways people from all cultures interact with the digital world,” added Williams. “With this change comes growth and the tech industry is experiencing a shortage of technology professionals for key positions who can bring a variety of perspectives, viewpoints, and objectivity on how to shape the next wave of technical innovation.”

The ADIT and AWIT Communities are focused on increasing the diversity within the tech workforce and helping their members grow their careers within tech. Like ADIT’s support of Black Tech Mecca, AWIT saw a similar trend with the charity it supported this year, Girl Develop IT.

LeeAnn Kinney, outreach and special initiatives director for Girl Develop It, said the CompTIA donation will help her organization better engage women hailing from underrepresented and low-resource communities.

“These are women who continue to be left out due to multi-factorial socioeconomic disadvantages,” Kinney said. “Our vision is to dig deeper, to burst the bubble, so that we are reaching and empowering minorities through code and community.”

To date, nearly 100,000 women have participated in Girl Develop It classes.

The Advancing Women in Technology community works to empower women with resources and information to positively impact their technology careers and inspire women to choose careers in technology.

The Advancing Diversity in Technology community seeks to be the leading advocate for the advancement of African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos within the technology industry who have traditionally been underrepresented.

The T in STEM book is proud to support both of these communities!

Don’t Hold the Phone: Fun & Function Come Together at Girl Scouts & TechShopz Collaboration

Girl Scouts plan, prototype and practice UX design in an app design workshop by TechGirlz and Creating IT Futures

By Michelle Lange

How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM has busted some myths about tech careers over the past few months, but one of the most prevalent myths remains that STEM doesn’t interest young girls. In fact, Girl Scouts from Gary, Hammond and Merrillville, Indiana, were so into learning about technology that they loaded onto a bus at 7 a.m. on a Saturday and drove all the way to Chicago for an imagination-based approach to app design.

“We’re thinking about things like function, features and flow,” teacher Andrea Davis-Baptiste told the girls after they’d jumped into the workshop, developed by TechGirlz and delivered to the Girl Scouts with funding from Creating IT Futures. Davis-Baptiste is a programming and computer literacy skills teacher who volunteered to run the day’s TechShopz in a Box workshop, Designing

Mobile Apps. “What problems does it solve for people and why would someone need or want this app?”

In the technology room of St. Agatha’s News School in Douglas Park, the fourth through eighth grade girls took time to brainstorm, collaborate and consider each other’s ideas.

“We’ve got them prototyping and learning the terminology,” said Georgetta Davis, who mentors and assistant teaches with her daughter, Davis-Baptiste, through Eminent Group Consultants. “It’s also an approach to technology using collaboration and teamwork.”

Through the step-by-step lesson, the Girl Scouts got deep into questions about user personas and what kinds of action buttons would look best. They spent the morning playing, thinking and drawing, and also learned wire framing, paper prototyping and why addressing the user experience (UX) is essential to any good technology design.

TechGirlz is a Philadelphia-based organization that has reached 10,000 girls over the past five years with engaging TechShopz that teach everything from putting a computer together to coding to robotics. You can read more about their work in the T in STEM book.

Girls Scouts has its own STEM programming but routinely collaborates with other nonprofits to maximize science and tech learning for its girls. These particular Girl Scouts were part of a special program called Girl Space, which helps fund programming in low-income neighborhoods. The TechGirlz / Girl Space collaboration will involve two groups of Girl Scouts each attending two TechShopz this fall as part of NextUp, an initiative by CompTIA and Creating IT Futures which aims to ignite interest in tech careers among middle-schoolers.

“It made perfect sense while the girls were in the midst of their fall STEM unit to connect them to the TechGirlz curriculum,” said Eric Larson, senior director, IT Futures Labs, Creating IT Futures. “We’re really curious with this pilot to see how the girls respond and whether both parties might want to deepen their engagement.”
TechShopz aim to change the way middle school girls think about technology by teaching skills that working tech professionals use in their daily lives. For example, mobile app designers tend to flesh out their ideas on paper, so they can then accelerate the coding process.

“It gets them working as a team, gives them a chance to do some problem solving and creative thinking,” Davis said.

Immersed in App Ideas

Ede Crittle walked into the room halfway through the workshop and found Girl Scouts researching everything from baby carrots to bubble letters to help inspire their app designs. “You can hear a pin drop,” Crittle said. The director of community outreach for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana was impressed by how immersed the girls were in their projects.

“It’s a new generation where they are familiar with technology, and it’s important for them to see the inner workings,” said Crittle.

In their rapid prototyping session, the Girl Scouts came up with some wild ideas for their apps while learning that technology can be a creative and challenging career choice. They made up apps based on some of their favorites, like musical.ly, where users pick songs or play games and win prizes at the end. “You can win prizes like free pizza,” explained Girl Scout Meyah as her team of Shimmer and Shine Gamers presented their app.

Another group of Girl Scouts created a food-based app called Enjoy!, full of recipes, ratings and a spot to upload food photos next to professional chefs so people can vote on who made it better. An app called Movie Play got lots of kids excited. It’s a picture-in-picture app that lets you watch movies and play games on your phone at the same time. Some invented app games like Finder, which challenges users to find different shapes, items and themes within the game.

“It sparks their interest in STEM careers,” Crittle said. Supporting this type of creativity and interest in STEM careers is exactly why the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana partnered with TechGirlz, CompTIA and Creating IT Futures.

“The girls can see how their everyday interests can blossom into careers,” Crittle said. “STEM careers are dominated by men and we need girls to understand at a young age that they can be whatever their hearts desire.”

Girl Scouts, leaders and anyone who wants to introduce middle school girls to technology can access the TechGirlz material, including TechShopz in a Box. Get started here.

—Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.

To Tech Careers and Beyond: Charitable Giving from CompTIA Member Community

A member community at CompTIA, the Space Enterprise Council, has donated $10,000 to the nonprofit Federation of Galaxy Explorers.

The contribution is part of an annual process by CompTIA and its IT workforce charity, Creating IT Futures, to give back to local communities through philanthropy, bringing positive awareness to selected charities and CompTIA, and acting as a way of encouraging individual charitable service.

How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology, A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, is only one of the avenues that Creating IT Futures uses to promote tech careers for young people, especially those from under-represented communities. In all, CompTIA member communities donated $170,000 to worthwhile charities this year.

The Federation of Galaxy Explorers seeks to inspire space-based STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education in young people. The charity offers fun and dynamic programming in an effort to equalize gender, race and demographic communities in STEM-related career fields.

Nicholas Eftimiades founded the nonprofit organization in 2001 to inspire youth interest in science and engineering. Because the organization runs almost entirely thanks to the time and efforts of volunteers, he said, the Space Enterprise Council’s contribution will fully support programming such as after-school clinics, summer camps and its signature “battle of the rockets” competition.

“We are extremely appreciative of the gift from CompTIA and will be using it to enhance the lives of children and expose them to STEM opportunities,” he said.

Like How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, the Federation has a mission to target its programming toward girls and youths of color, who historically are underrepresented in STEM fields, Eftimiades said, adding that the Federation’s gender-centric after-school clinics have proven to be very popular among girls.

“The response has been amazing; girls flock to these programs,” he said. “And CompTIA helps make this work possible.”

“Stimulating and encouraging students to pursue STEM-related studies and activities early in their academic careers is fundamental to preparing and motivating students to pursue STEM disciplines at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. The Federation of Galaxy Explorers’ K-12 program leverages children’s interest in space to promote a program of after-school studies focused on space and STEM education,” said Earl Madison, director, business development, Lockheed Martin, and an executive council member of the Space Enterprise Council. “Their success is evident as current Galaxy Explorers are applying to enter universities to pursue STEM degrees and as former Galaxy Exploders complete their degrees and enter the workforce.”

The Space Enterprise Council represents all sectors of the space industry, including commercial, civil and national security space. As a forum for space-related companies, the council brings the collective power of its affiliation with CompTIA and its diverse members into a single, unified voice that is used in advocating member interests to policymakers.

Girls and Gizmos: Hands on Tech Workshops with the Girl Scouts of America

Young girls are one of the key demographics that How To Launch Your Teens Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM has identified as eligible to fill the tech skills gap. Organizations like the Girl Scouts of America are working hard to help young girls find opportunities in tech.

Low-key welding and big rig truck driving drew 85 Girl Scouts out Saturday for an afternoon of maker projects, computer literacy games and robotics.

“We wanted a skill-building event that was exceptionally hands-on,” said Rose Coughlen, who manages the science, technology, education, art and math programming (STEAM) for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

The Tinker Girls event, sponsored in part by CompTIA and Creating IT Futures, was designed to spark an interest in technology careers for the fourth to eighth grade girls. Girl Scouts soldered LED lights onto colorful metal shapes, programmed a robot to run an obstacle course, and yelled “BINGO!” after marking off their knowledge of topics like telecommuting, cyberbullying and the internet of things.

Hands-On Technology Activities

“How did you turn that computer inside out?” a Girl Scout named Shayna asked Nicole Maseberg, who was holding court at the Creating IT Futures booth.

“This is the computer I used in college,” Maseberg said, walking her through the computer hardware, pulled apart but still operating, even with the insides exposed. Over a table covered in gutted computer parts, Maseberg showed Girl Scouts different pieces — memory, hard drives, servers and even a point of sale system from a 7-Eleven — and how sticks of RAM have gotten smaller over the years.

“If I could do this kind of thing every day, I would,” said Maseberg, whose job is focused on IT workforce development. “I really hope it gets people inspired to work in technology.”

Outside, professional truck driver Stephanie Klang had girls climb one at a time into the cab of her CFI-owned big rig, instructed everyone else to plug their ears, and let them rip a loud HOOOOOONNNNNKKKKKK of the horn.

“There are seven computers on trucks and a DEF system that turns the emissions into water vapor,” said Klang. They were more interested in the fur balls Klang brings with her on the road — she travels everywhere with three cats in the truck. Klang used the girls’ questions to talk about technology, and the way it drives the heating system that keeps her kitties warm in her cab overnight.

“We try to bring in more women as volunteers so that the girls can see older role models doing these projects, too,” said Coughlen. “They can see themselves in that role model, and they’re seeing themselves in a career and getting the benefit of hands-on practice.”

Outside of the activities, groups like TechGirlz had displays and games to show Girl Scouts different ways they can have fun with technology, why data science is so powerful and what robots the Girl Scout LEGO robotics team is bringing to an upcoming competition.

Upstairs, the smell of hot metal wafted out of a darkened room where Dwayne Forsyth of 2D Kits and his team of volunteers gave the Girl Scouts instructions as they held soldering guns, jumped in surprise at the tiny sparks and carefully learned how much space to keep between the metal wire, the heat of the gun and the gizmo being decorated.

“A lot of them have never even heard of a soldering gun before, and now they can go to school and say, ‘I learned how to solder,’ or ‘I was able to pull the horn on a cab of a truck,’” Coughlen said. “We’re hoping they learn some hands-on skills.”

The day did what it was designed to: get girls excited about new career paths, and included the benefits of seeing female role models working with technology, and cross-pollinating the troops so girls can get to know other Girl Scouts in the area.

“We do a lot of career day events so they can see themselves in these positions, but a lot of times it’s a panel talk so it feels like school,” Coughlen said. “This is one where they get to be a Tinker Girl for the day.”

Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.

Strata CEO & TechGirlz Collaboration: Launching the Careers of Young Technologists

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

Joy Baer, CEO of ad tech software company Strata, knows first-and-foremost the importance of inspiring young women to pursue technology as early as possible in their education. She credits her own her experiences as a teen, exploring an Apple IIc computer while babysitting, after her charges had gone to sleep for the night.

Baer went on to major in computer science in college, which led to an interest in developing software for business applications. Today, she has more than 25 years of enterprise software experience, including software and management consulting expertise with Fortune 500 and national media companies. She embodies the five core qualities technologists share, and in her current role as Strata CEO she especially is proud to serve as a role model for young women and girls aspiring to be leaders and technologists.

Like the team that supports How To Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM, Baer believes in encouraging the next generation of women tech leaders. Earlier this year, Baer hosted the first-ever Chicago-based workshop with TechGirlz, a nonprofit that aims to “inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.” Baer discovered TechGirlz through Strata’s parent company Comcast, and the organization’s mission immediately struck a chord with her. (Creating IT Futures, led by our author Charles Eaton, also is a TechGirlz partner through its NextUp initiative.).

“My exposure to computers in middle school a was a pivot point for me shifting to that field later in life,” Baer explained. “The importance of exposing girls at a formative age to technology in really positive ways is critical to getting them to think of technology as part of their own skill set, as opposed to thinking of it for someone else, like for the guys, for the geeks.”

Held at Strata headquarters, the workshop consisted of a group of 6th-, 7th– and 8th-grade girls learning how to record, edit and develop podcasts. It was a fun-filled day and easy to implement, which Baer feels is evidence that the TechGirlz’ TechShopz in a Box concept could be integrated into classroom curricula across the country.

Baer believes early exposure can help turn the tide of societal pressures young girls face that can lead them to shy away from STEM education. Her own daughter didn’t take computer science class until senior year of high school. “That’s too late to learn that you’re really great at something, most of the time,” she said.

Her advice to tween and teen girls: “Don’t be afraid or discouraged to learn and immerse yourself in as much technology as you can. Boldly choose a high school program or college program, and realize that you will still be forging new ground in that space, there are gender biases still built in. Stay strong and go for it.”

How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM aims to provide resources to young women so that they can launch their careers in technology like Joy Baer.

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.

I’m a Technologist, Too: Alyissa Dzaugis – Product Manager, Scout Exchange

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

As much as we love STEM education, we don’t ignore STEAM, which integrates “A”, for Arts, into the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Alyissa Dzaugis earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin. Not a lot of technology in that coursework, and it’s hard to jump right into a well-paying job in the arts. But Dzaugis found a job working for Pearson, an educational publishing company that also has a hand in technology.

Seeing how technology fit into different subjects at Pearson changed her perspective. It opened her up to the world of tech startups, where her background in art and film came in surprisingly handy. The humanities taught her to think creatively, react quickly and work well on a team — crucial skills for the startup world.

Today, Dzaugis is a product manager for tech startup Scout Exchange, which works with human resource departments to help make recruiting easier at their companies.

 

“Marrying technology and the humanities is really powerful. It helps you see problems in new ways,” Dzaugis said in her interview for Charles Eaton’s book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education..

Humanities courses and degrees emphasize connection and collaboration, skills with a lot of value in technology careers. The newest colleague on your tech team could be an English major or artist.

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.

I’m A Technologist, Too: John Holst – Senior Manager, Content, CompTIA

 

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

John Holst knows firsthand the need to cooperate, collaborate and understand the human value of technology. The diversity of the people and their careers surprised him when he entered the technology industry. “I thought IT would be more like, alone, on a computer by yourself,” said Holst during his interview for Charles Eaton’s book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education. “I realize now it’s a lot more collaborative than I thought it would be.”

Holst works with a variety of people to build websites and manage all content produced by his company. The most challenging part of his job is making sure that artists, designers, coders, marketers and project managers are all on the same page.

“The most rewarding part of the job is when we launch a piece of content or site and it launches well,” he said.

As the industry grows, more companies will need people to manage content and fix websites. That means job security for someone with people skills and a few marketable tech skills. “You’re always going to need someone to manage content or fix websites,” Holst said. “I think it’s always going to be a career that has stability and something I can rely on in my life going forward.”

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.

I’m a Technologist, Too: Shannon Branch—Scholar and Innovator

 

 

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. Atechnologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

 

Born to drug-addicted parents in New York, Shannon Branch spent her first seven years in North Carolina foster care before returning to the city, where she struggled through high school. She graduated and tried college, but didn’t have a strategy to deal with the intense workload.

Through a friend, she learned about Per Scholas, which offers free technology training to low-income people in six U.S. cities, and then helps those students find jobs.

“They offered technology — the future,” Branch told us when interviewed for Charles Eaton’s book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education. “I saw this as a chance to finally have my own future, too.”

She took a challenging all-women’s class, and her persistence paid off. She now has role models and a new perspective on technology.

“One of the best things Per Scholas did was invite four women who work in the field to come and talk to my class,” Branch said. “Three of them were African American and one was Hispanic, and they told us their trials and tribulations.”

She was inspired by them, working in an industry where just 3 percent of the professionals are minority women. “They’re making change,” she said, “and they gave us courage and confi­dence, because they’re the proof that we can do it, too!”

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.

I’m a Technologist Too: Matthew Pineiro – Senior Systems Engineer, ASI System Integration

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

As a Systems Engineer, Matthew Pineiro designs technology solutions for customers, and then puts them into action. And he doesn’t use calculus to do it. Instead, to sell customers on his ideas, he applies his sharpest soft skills – his intangible knack for connecting with people. Sure, math skills are necessary, too. But the basics will do.

“You don’t have to be great at math,” Pineiro said during his interview for Charles Eaton’s book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education. “If you can add and subtract and do basic multiplication and division, you’re halfway there.”

Along with communication skills, Pineiro stressed that advanced IT systems are made of simpler systems. He can relate to the intimidation you might feel while looking at a giant data center server rack. But he also knows that once you break all that hardware down to smaller parts, even complex solutions start making sense.

“Everything builds upon another thing,” said Pineiro. “I think most people would be pretty surprised with their ability to work in this field.”

Pineiro believes coupling soft skills with technical training will keep motivated people moving up the IT ladder.

“Before you know it, you’re going to look back and say, ‘I never thought I’d get to this point, I never thought I’d understand these things I’m doing, but now it’s just second nature.’”

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.

I’m a Technologist, Too: Cassandra Anderson – Director of Channel Sales, Crexendo

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

Cassandra Anderson stumbled into the technology industry while working in an adolescent drug rehab center that needed an upgrade to its phone and computer systems. “In working with the local phone installer, I realized the technology fascinated me,” she said.

She impressed the company with her questions and people skills, and later they asked her to come aboard as a customer trainer. “I made the switch and after 18 years — and so many wonderful positions in the technology industry — I have never looked back,” Anderson told us during her interview for Charles Eaton’s book How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education.

The industry’s constant evolution is what keeps her engaged. “There are always new products and concepts to learn and share. I have the opportunity to help businesses improve and to make a difference,” she said.

She encourages women to look at technology as not just technical, but as a creative way to change the world. “We can make change,” she said. “One solution at a time.”

What interesting places has your tech path taken you? The T in STEM Blog collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at rcdirkes@rclement.com and inspire someone.