Volunteering at Hour of Code

Yesterday, as part of the Hour of Code, I went to Information Technology High School in Long Island City. I spent the morning talking to students about what it’s like to work in Web Operations.

It was amazing seeing students taking an interest in technology and coding. Many of them had already completed the Hour of Code projects. Others were still tinkering, seeing what they could add and change. I spent some time critiquing and reviewing work they had done in Mrs. Ramirez’s Web Design class. The students had all created functional portfolio sites, complete with content, small bits of javascript, and even Flash games.

The students were interested in my day to day, and the path I took to get where I am in my career. The students were amazed to hear that I didn’t work in a dark closet by myself, but in a brightly lit office constantly interacting with colleagues. They were also amazed to hear that the skills they needed to be truly successful in tech weren’t just coding and hardware, but communication, teamwork, and judgment. How a college education fit in to a career in Web Operations came up a few times. It was particularly interesting because I’m not aware of any four year university that offers a program in the field.

Students were particularly interested to hear about about some of the work I’ve done around security and incident response. Tales of defending against DDoS and spam attacks were a great way to let them know that career paths in tech aren’t just limited to coding or back office IT. They were spellbound to hear that mitigating DDoS attacks were actually something that could be part of an actual career path, and not just something they see in TV and movies. I truly hope that some students are inspired to pursue a career in Systems Administration and Web Operations.

One thing that was made clear to me as I was asked to describe my path to Web Operations was there is no clear path, and that sad fact has resulted in a shortage of people in the field. I would encourage other folks in Web Operations to spend some time talking to young students about the work that we do in the hopes that in a few years the industry will grow and mature. After all, for every class that learns to code, there need to be a few students who know how to run the infrastructure for that code.

Dec 17th, 2015