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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Career Day at Queens Vocational and Technical High School

by Kristen Treglia, Instructional Tecnologist

"I hope I inspired students to find a career they can be passionate about."

Recently, I had the exciting opportunity to speak about my job at Fordham IT on Career Day at Queens Vocational and Technical High School. More than just telling them about my experience teaching HS math for 10 years and my career as an Instructional Technologist at Fordham during these past 5 years, I hope I inspired students to find a career they can be passionate about. I think Steve Jobs said it best:  "The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all maters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."  

As a math geek, it was fun for me to be in the classroom again. We did a mini lesson on Pi and talked about my favorite holiday: Pi Day! We also talked about the importance of math in developing critical thinking, problem solving and logic skills, all of which are useful no matter what career students pursue. For the math phobic, I shared tips on coping with math anxiety and where to find resources for help. Math is a tool and language that a vast number of scientists need, no matter their field, but I also emphasized the beauty of mathematics and how math describes the nature of our universe.

In the second part of my talk, I described the many hats I wear as an Instructional Technologist, as well as the challenges and rewards of working in any IT job. My primary role is to assist faculty in learning and applying digital pedagogy, but I spend a fair amount of time as a videographer, media conversion specialist, Blackboard system admin, content creator, graphic designer, web designer/developer, and keep up to date with new resources and trends. Students were excited to hear about some of my job perks, such as testing out new technologies like Google Glass, travelling to conferences, and the many vacation days we get as university staff!

The students I spoke with are digital natives. They’ve always known a world with the Internet and are accustomed to a whole range of technologies. I drew from their knowledge to share some context about our current information age:

I framed that conversation by reminding them that as American citizens, we have rights, duties and privileges. The students were familiar with examples such as the First Amendment, jury duty, and education, but not so much with digital citizenship. Despite their digital nativeness, students were less knowledgeable about the diverse media and digital literacy skills that constitute core competencies of citizenship in the digital age. See The 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship for more information.

Lively conversations such as these led students to ask many questions. In particular they were most excited to talk about 3D printing. Fordham's Faculty Technology Center just ordered a 3D printer that will soon be available for faculty to test. Students were surprised to learn that 3D printers print more than just plastic objects: They can print functioning organs, food, basic electronics, and even make up! Check out my wiki page on 3D printing that I put together for the two-part Learn IT I did last year on tech trends.

These high school students were already concerned about the significant expense of attending college. They wanted to check out free college courses and other opportunities for online education. I created a page on one of my websites with links to math resources, 3D printing and information about new careers, free online classes and MOOCs. 

I had a blast at Career Day and am looking forward to next year! If you wish to share your passion with career-minded students, please visit The Community Corps or contact Jana Markowitz, Director, Outreach/STEM Initiatives. 

Kristen Treglia is an Instructional Technologist.

Did you miss Calvin Byer's article about his career day experience? Read it here!

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