Last week, I spent the morning with about 30 high school students in Raleigh, NC who are studying to become engineers. As part of a partnership between Lenovo and the National Academies Foundation (NAF), I was on hand to deliver Lenovo ThinkPad laptops and YOGA 2 tablets to young people from under-represented populations in urban and rural areas of the U.S.
As part of the Lenovo Scholar Network these students are learning how to build apps, in addition to using MIT App Inventor software. They work in teams during the school year, and compete against other teams in local and national mobile app competition programs. It is a rich learning experience for how to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in real life application.
During my introduction, and as I looked out on the bright, eager faces of the next generation of STEM leaders, I reflected on my journey from high school to a corporate global leader in high tech. Their questions about regrets, how to manage their lives and live it their way took me back to my high school days. I was a nerdy teenager with a passion for math. I was completely unsure about how to use math to “make money” but I knew that I loved problem solving.
Their questions prompted me to share three lessons to empower high school students along their journey:
1. Get an education – Education is so important and when young students are looking to gain a competitive advantage and one thing that stands out to employers is good grades. Continuously study and learn new things. Students interested in internships should really focus on maintaining a high GPA, especially in the first year of college.
2. Embrace the unfamiliar – Our world has opened up and there are so many new opportunities being created every day. Although I am trained as an engineer, the Human Resources role I play now is not something that I “planned” to do. However, the skills I learned as an engineer are used every day in my HR role. The rule is – Don’t be afraid to do something you have never done before.
3. Enjoy the moment – For those of us with a technical, left-brained approach to thinking, sometimes we plan too much and miss what’s going on right in front of us. Young people should seek to enjoy their learning opportunities and stay focused on the present.
Today’s students are much better equipped to be successful and the tools Lenovo provided today will help them access more information and knowledge to make the world a better place.