This past fall while I was researching our business I heard from a friend. Mike was actually a former client of mine from JP Morgan Chase and he was asking if I'd spend some time with his son's best friend at college who was seeking some career counseling. I regularly coach my former team members and welcomed the opportunity. As we made our way through the conversation, I quickly realized that this coaching session was different and fortuitous. I was receiving crucial insight and market validation for our new business.
As a college sophomore double majoring in Information Systems and Finance with a Computer Science minor, this student was feeling frustrated about unknown career paths. He knew with certainty that he didn't want to be a software developer. He understood that the characteristics of that field didn't suit his interests. He didn't want to perform the lion share of his work sitting in front of a computer screen - and knew he needed much more time interacting with others. Often it's just as important to know what we don't want.
When I suggested that he investigate being a product developer, or an IT business or systems analyst, or project manager, he stared at me with great interest. He then confided that he didn't know what those STEM jobs were or what they entailed. I explained that there were many tech jobs that required excellent communication skills and that these roles often served as the bridge between the business and technical teams within the company. I always loved serving as that bridge and played those very roles early in my own tech career.
I was impressed that he was taking this career exploration so seriously. When I inquired about his sense of urgency, he shared a story about his brother's college journey being interrupted by an internship in his junior year that uncovered the stark reality that he didn't want to be an accountant even though he was pursuing an accounting degree. He quickly changed his major to finance and thankfully didn't derail his graduation timing. People need access to real role models and real world STEM careers throughout their lives. Too many people seek degrees without understanding career options. Too many people receive degrees that they'll never use. What do you think?