Think It. Make It. Change the World.
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Think It. Make It. Change the World.

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Ever considered a career in technology? This presentation was written for a group of Year 11 & 12 high school girls visiting the Australian National University.

Ever considered a career in technology? This presentation was written for a group of Year 11 & 12 high school girls visiting the Australian National University.

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  • Who here is a geek? Facebook? Twitter? MSN or Skype or Chat Roulette? World of Warcraft or Eve or something like that? Photoshop or some other graphics program? Flickr? Who here has ever wanted to find something out, and gone straight to Google or Wikipedia first? What is a geek? Someone who does cool stuff with technology. Not just about computers ... but will get to that later
  • Started out a nice girl. More or less. Pulled other kids’ toys apart – couldn’t get them back together but learned lots of stuff. Cutting wires, licking pop caps. Early days full of disappointment.
  • High school. I was the kid everyone teased. Nothing to do with hanging out in library playing AD&D. Jealous because they didn’t have a level 15 paladin. When not playing AD&D, hung out in computer labs doing not much. Programming, gaming, but mostly just hanging out.
  • High school was rough, but I have a secret ... high school is nothing like real life. How many of you are planning on going to uni? [hands] What are you planning on studying? [write on board] Will come back to these. Do you want to know what I enrolled in at uni?
  • Film & TV! I shit you not! Funny story ... computer program that picked careers, filled out form. Uni must have been desperate, because I got in to a Bachelor of Arts doing Film & TV.
  • Next thing you know, I’m at uni studying Film & TV. Fun for a while, cool arty people, watch movies for ‘study’. Woke up with killer hangover, went to lecture to discover exam. Had really screwed up, what to do? Quit uni, spent the rest of the year sleeping off the hangover. Drinking habit required job. Job required uni. That meant finding a class that I’d actually turn up to. Eventually decided a business degree was a good all-rounder, and enrolled. God only knows why.
  • It turned out that business was pretty boring too, but I did better the second time around. The fun part was where I got to choose majors. I chose a Marketing major to start with, and then started hanging out in the computer lab, and some geek friends convinced me to enrol in Information Systems too.
  • So this was my real introduction to computers as tools, rather than just for fooling around on. Took a while, but I turned up for classes, made most of my exams. Must have done alright, they gave me a degree and kicked me out into the world. Well, shit. You know what I discovered? The real world – the world where people work and have families and be grown up – is nothing at all like what I expected. When you say you’re into tech, people don’t look funny at me anymore. When say you hacked something up with FB and a shell script, people roll their eyes in HS. In real life they go “Cool! Can you do that for me?”. Seriously awesome.
  • School is hard. Not going to say otherwise. But if you make it out other side, you discover you have talents you never realised you had. We all have a superpower, not allowed to know about it until it’s fully formed. Go through teens thinking you’re shit at everything, then get thrust out into adulthood and realise you can do stuff no one else can do.
  • You. Are. Awesome. You probably don’t think you are, but you really are. Might be uncool to be interested in tech, might think you’re crap at anything worthwhile doing. It’s an elaborate plot by life. You can do stuff no one else can do. You’ll finish school, get a crap job, and make lots of mistakes. That’s OK. Pick something at uni, treat it as a box of chocolates. Go to some of your friends lectures in subjects you’ve never heard of. Try little bits here and there. Let’s look at the courses you’ve all picked here ...
  • My point – you don’t need to be a stereotypical geek to be interested in tech. Or work in tech. Or be successful in tech. Being a stereotypical geek is less likely to get you there. If you’re this guy, with the dumb glasses and zero personality, employers will not be interested in you. Companies want – NEED – people with intelligence, people who can communicate, people who are passionate, and who have new ideas no one else has thought of. That is you.
  • Technology is so much more than just computers, or just programming. And a lot of it is really, really sexy. If you’ve been thinking that an engineering degree is going to turn you into a propeller-head, you’re wrong. Unless you want it to, of course ;) If all you want is to be able to play with some really awesome and fun stuff, be on the bleeding edge of technology, and make some really good money while you’re doing it, then tech – of some description – is where you need to be. You heard it here first.

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