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Ignite My Future in School brings a “Virtual Career Day” to middle schoolers in South Carolina

 
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South Carolina has a STEM skills gap – so during the COVID-19 Lockdown, TCS was invited to hold a Virtual Career Day to inspire Greenville’s middle school students to consider a career in technology.

For three decades, the economy of South Carolina had been struggling – with many of the core manufacturing industries moving . Today, the state ranks low in virtually every economic category – despite efforts to change that.

In recent years, initiatives led by Governor Henry McMaster have been implemented to address the state’s struggling economy – including $10 billion in capital investment that’s created 35,000 new jobs.

However, even success comes with a price – and now the economy faces a new challenge: An influx of new industries and job opportunities, but too few South Carolinians qualified to fill them.

"We have 60,000 jobs out there looking for people," Governor McMaster said during last year’s South Carolina Chamber of Commerce's annual "Business Speaks" forum in Columbia. “The job market has changed. In these big plants, workers don't carry toolboxes anymore – they carry laptops and tablets. You can go in there wearing a tuxedo and you won't get dirty. It's a different kind of economy."

In Greenville, South Carolina, teacher Emily Strickland recognized the importance of letting her students know about the opportunities that existed for them in South Carolina, and wanted to inspire them to study STEM subjects after graduation, so they’d be qualified to take advantage of them.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused Emily’s school, Beck International Academy, to shift suddenly to distance learning, Emily saw the change as an opportunity to educate her students about the career opportunities available to them in South Carolina – and when looking for a technology powerhouse to help drive that point home, she knew exactly which company to turn to: Tata Consultancy Services.Emily’s relationship with TCS goes back two years, when she became a Learning Leader as part of TCS’ Ignite My Future in School program.

Ignite My Future in School (IMFIS) is a groundbreaking initiative from TCS integrating computational thinking into the fabric of core curriculum subjects like English, Science, and Social Studies in partnership with Discovery Education. In addition to being a great resource for teachers, this subtle shift in teaching helps empower students with the skills and thinking they’ll need to succeed in a 21st century career.

Emily saw how empowering IMFIS was to her students, and how purpose-driven TCS was in helping students like hers succeed – so thought TCS would be the perfect partner to host a ‘Virtual Career Day’ for the students of Beck International Academy.

The ‘Virtual Career Day’ has been envisioned as a series of three ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions. The first took place last month and was entitled “Creativity in STEM.”

Led by three experts from TCS, the panel looked at how technology careers didn’t need to be stuffy or boring – and that opportunities for writers, and creative types existed in a company like TCS.

The panelists were Amy Bergeron, Senior Internal Communications and Social Media Manager, Cecelia Tamsen, PR and Communications Manager for HR, and Rachel Sigley-Cantalupo, Senior Brand Marketing Manager. During the session, they shared the personal and professional journeys that had led them to TCS, including what had motivated them to pursue their specific careers.

One message that came across clearly was how despite the panelists each having very different roles, and living in different parts of the country, they all felt like part of a unified company with an aligned purpose, and all shared the same values behind the TCS mission and purpose.

Over 25 students participated in this first ‘Virtual Career Day’ and weren’t shy about quizzing the panelists from TCS. Questions included what a typical workday looked like, and what other creative positions existed within a company like TCS. One particularly fun question was about which celebrities each of the panelists had met through their careers – with answers including 50 Cent and Michael Phelps.

One student, Timothy, was excited to learn that a passion for art could translate into a career with a company like TCS. He shared his artwork with the panelists, and learned how companies like TCS relied on digital artists and graphic designers – roles perfect for an artistic person.

8th Grader Mackenzie was interested in how marketing and communications operated behind-the-scenes, and said: "I enjoyed learning about the different details that went into such a big product. It was interesting to see the amount of work you wouldn’t even imagine going into what they made."

Following the end of the ‘Virtual Career Day’, several teachers from Beck International Academy weighed in about the value they’d felt TCS had brought during their virtual visit.

“TCS was a great fit for STEM Day at Beck International Academy,” said Dr. Lesia Patterson, 8th Grade English Language Arts teacher. “Their presentation was relevant to our students' interests, and both teachers and students were fully engaged in learning about career opportunities in graphic design, social media, and television production. The students' questions were answered with transparency, made connections to prior knowledge, and gave career insight through real-life experiences!”

The second TCS-hosted ‘Virtual Career Day’ has already taken place – this time featuring Scott Daniels from our TCS Digital Studio in Santa Clara talking about the exciting TCS NYC Marathon Virtual Reality Race Game.

After the event, Emily wrote to TCS:

“I can’t thank you enough for setting up the career panel for our students. I’ve had so many great reactions from students, teachers, and parents. By inviting your colleagues to share their experiences in the workplace, it allowed our students to see STEM careers in action – which is so valuable.  We can't thank TCS and Ignite My Future in School enough for spending time with our students.”

The ‘Virtual Career Day’ was just one way in which TCS’ Ignite My Future in School program is continuing to provide value to schools and educators across the country. With education serving as one of the pillars of TCS’ purpose in the community, IMFIS continues to find innovative ways to impact the lives of middle and high schoolers even during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about Ignite My Future in School please visit: https://www.ignitemyfutureinschool.org/

And to set up a Virtual Career Day for community schools you know, please contact Kelli Recher at: kelli.recher@tcs.com.