Posted: Wed, 01/08/2020 - 9:00 am EST
“When am I ever going to use this?”
The common refrain heard in classrooms across the country. It is sometimes prompted by students complaining about the task at hand, yet other times (and with genuine curiosity), they are wondering what relevance their learning has to their futures. I honestly think I have heard the question asked less often in my CS classes, but I believe it is still important to connect both the foundations of computing and the specialized nature of the field to real-world examples and careers.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hiring in the computer science and information technology field is projected to increase by 12% from 2018 to 2028. Areas of key emphasis include “cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.” The opportunities for our students to have careers in CS are only increasing.
So, how can we draw clear connections between what they are learning and the types of jobs the skills pertain to? Below are a few suggestions.
- When talking about general careers, don’t forget about computer science! Use books (like this one) and resources that are more comprehensive when presenting career options.
- Use real-life examples. Simple coding activities (like those in the Hour of Code) allow students to see connections between the games they make and other apps they use regularly. Or code a robot (like these) and talk about connections to factory automation or self-driving cars.
Middle & High School
- Display career posters that outline some of the jobs available in computer science (see resources below).
- Schedule interviews with local computer science professionals or Skype a computer scientist.
- Help older students find internship opportunities or summer boot camps to further their interest.
What are your best ways to get students thinking about a career in CS? Let me know in the comments!