The Technologists of Tomorrow

I had the pleasure of attending the Thomas Jefferson High School internship fair on Wed Jan 20, in Alexandria, VA. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes, they’re smart. Yes, they’re technical. Yes, they’re ambitious. But let’s face it, they’re just kids.

But as the afternoon progressed, my prejudices of “they’re just kids” quickly faded. The beauty of those students was not in their academic and extra-curricular achievements (although, those were beyond impressive!) but instead, the reality that they were so much more than just their academic successes. I had artful and insightful conversations about Snapchat, artificial intelligence, and technology in research. It was their gift of youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, not yet polluted by impossible deadlines and underfunded projects, that made me realize, the technologists of tomorrow are here, today.

I was totally blown away by their eagerness. It (almost) sounded silly to me as I was explaining it to my CTO who asked about the fair. I bumbled with descriptions like, “energetic, ambitious, joyful … (joyful? Yes, joyful)!” I ultimately summed it up with, “I can’t quite put my finger on it but it was soooo cool to be around them.” I mean, was it really just their optimistic youth?, inexperience in life outside their parents’ homes?, an existence without financial pressures of a car payment and mortgage? I’m guessing all of the above, plus the adorable-ness (yep, you read that right, I said adorable-ness) of first loves, wearing a new suit at school, and prepping a resume for the first time. Aww …

Every student I met was genuinely impressed with our internship program and asked what they would learn from the experience. To be honest, I’m not sure if they were truly interested in RazorX2 or not (Haha. No hard feelings. I was a teenager once too). But I picked up, almost immediately, that to them, RazorX2 was a stepping stone to revealing what they liked or maybe even didn’t like. I had no problem with that. In fact, I appreciated the honesty and simplicity of our interactions and conversations.

At the end of the day, despite “being on the other side of the table,” I left feeling like I was the one who gained from the experience. It just goes to show that anybody can influence our views of technology and its applications. Despite one’s years of professional experience, I learned through the eyes of teenagers, that we are all technologists of tomorrow.

I am very excited about the prospects of my internship candidates this summer. Given the students I met last Wed, I know this summer’s exchange will go beyond just the technical. It will be energetic, ambitious, and joyful. How cool is that?! Very.

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