I had the opportunity to participate in a “Career Day” at the QSI International School in Shekou. I was nominated by a colleague here who has a child going to QSI. I thoroughly enjoy participating in these sorts of events now. I suppose I’ve been working long enough where I feel that I have enough experience and opinions about what works and what doesn’t. It wasn’t so long ago that I was sitting on the opposite side of the table with no idea about what I wanted to do. I also recall having little interest in the topic, so my goal was to do my best at capturing the attention of the youngsters.
The panel I was assigned was an inspiring group: A Philipino woman who openly admitted she was in it for the money, having opened up a bar and spa in the Philipines. She’s now the proud owner of a gorgeous spa in Shekou. Another was a serial entrepreneur who started a few companies in China. He boldly stated that Shenzhen was the number one spot in the world to be an entreprenuer. Another woman was a teacher at the school, who participated to fill in a couple of empty seats. She was able to best connect with the kids. I brought ways to have fun at your job as well as ideas about turning your hobby into a money generating business.
We were fortunate enough to start with sophomores and progress to the seniors. It allowed us to hone our message for the ones that it really mattered the most – the seniors. Although, after the first session, folks were puzzled why there wasn’t so much audience participation, especially after meeting with the seniors. At that age, just a couple of years makes a big difference in your willingness to open up.
Ultimately, I probably wasn’t as successful as I had hoped at reaching the kids, but one final one-on-one conversation with a gawky, lanky tall from Brazil who expressed an interest in software but a lack of self-confidence in his ability. So, I had to share my same sort of story trying to write adventure programs on the Radio Shack Trash-80 and getting myself into all sorts of programmatic pretzels with BASIC and gotos, gosubs. I remember how clueless I was about “peek” and “poke” and not understanding anything at all about how memory worked, or what addresses were, and so on. So, bottom line, I told him, is that there is plenty of hope and opportunity to go around. Take an introductory course in computer science and, if you like it, keep on going. There are some definite barriers to entry, like an analytical mind, but most folks have enough innate ability, I think. Desire is what takes you the rest of the way.
Read the article on Career Day at Shenzhen’s QSI International School.