Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moulding young minds

I had a conversation this morning with Sylvain (our Director of Process Improvement) that connected some dots.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me - who are the people in your life that inspired you and shaped your path? Then they said - you are that person now. The things you say, and how you act inspires others around you, and has an impact on the path they take.

One of our missions at Macadamian is to inspire young students to pursue a career in technology. We believe that if we don't get students excited about technology and design, we're going to have a serious shortage of designers, engineers and computer scientists in the next couple of decades, and we're going to lose our innovation edge. So, we're one of the founders of the Ottawa High School Technology Program, and we recently invited in 3 high school students to work with us for a semester, because we think we can make a dent, and help reverse the trend of dwindling engineering enrollment.

Sylvain and I were talking about what we'd like our students to work on, and we decided that it was important to us that what they work on not be grunt work, but be a project that has an impact for Macadamian, and be something challenging. We'll mentor them through it over the course of the semester, so that they come away with the experience of working in a software company - from there they can decide if this is the career they want to pursue. Someone gave me that opportunity when I was in high-school - to do real, impactful work when I was on a high-school co-op term, and that has stayed with me since.

So here's the takaway - for most of the people reading my blog, I'd bet you continue to seek out mentorship, but also have an opportunity to mentor others. Take a chance and invite in some high-school co-op students, give them the chance to do real work, give them guidance, and you might be surprised about what you learn and what kind of impact you can have.