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SQL University – Teach Your Children Well

“If you had a daughter, would you really encourage her to get into IT?” … “Yes, if she loved it.”
- My Name Is Jes, and I’m a WIT, Jes Borland

“Let the kids (your kids, any kid) know there are more career options than teacher, doctor, lawyer, fireman, police office and astronaut.  Don’t force feed it to them, but lay a foundation.  It may not seem like it, but they will remember when they are older:  I know I did.”
- We Could Be Heroines…. Not Just For One Day, Julie Smith

“What I do care about is making sure that every single person, boy or girl, never experiences any barrier to the life they want, be it as a database developer, stay at home mom, or Wonder Woman. If we can accomplish that, it’ll all work itself out naturally.”
-Sometimes Saying Yes is All About Not Saying No, Audrey Hammonds

Sean and I have a daughter and two sons.  In addition to the standard Parent Curriculum lessons- things like laundry, hygiene, confidence, and all that jazz – we teach them other life skills that we consider essential for the kids:

  • Cooking: Food is required, healthy food is required for a healthy life, and tasty food is required (so we think) for a rich life.
  • Kenpo: It’s a dangerous world; we teach them fighting skills so they’ll be armed to the teeth, even without weapons.
  • Computers: No matter what they do with their lives, technology will be a part of it.

 This is day 4 of SQL University Women in Technology week, and this is my SQL blog, so we’re going to talk about…my kids!  And how we’re teaching them about technology.

If you had a daughter, would you really encourage her to get into IT?

Yes, absolutely. I’ll encourage all three kids to get into IT, to the point that they’re interested. Why? Because this field is awesome.  Here are some of the reasons for the awesomeness, more or less as explained to our children:

It’s a job that you do sitting down, inside a building.  We’ve had jobs standing up and/or outside for hours on end…these are not fun jobs after approximately age 23.  I’m being perfectly serious here (as the over 23 crowd probably have realized).

There are tech jobs - and I’m only exaggerating very slightly here – absolutely everywhere.  I could walk into Hibbert’s Gore, Maine (population: 1) and sell somebody tech support.  This makes it a lot easier to get a job (or change jobs) than in, say, the parks and recreation sector. Ask me how I know.

There are – and again, I’m only exaggerating slightly – approximately 100 gazillion different kinds of IT jobs. Cross join computers, networks, software, storage, and a few dozen other things with design, build, install, support, test, troubleshoot, and optimize….and now add all the different brands on top, and then multiply again by the number of ways different businesses use all of the above to further their particular money making (or philanthropic) venture.  In  short: If you have any inclination towards techie stuff, it’s hard to get bored.

It pays well!  Some kinds of positions pay better than others, certainly. But this is definitely a field that you can do well in, with a bit of studying and strategizing.  This is the kind of gig that will let you have a decent house and car, and still travel and retire before you’re too old to enjoy it.

To review: Technology is fun, it’s cool. It’s lucrative and flexible. It doesn’t ruin your knees or blacken your lungs (and hey, carpal tunnel treatments are getting better every year!)  There are a thousand different directions to go while still remaining on the IT map.

Lay a Foundation

We’re huge computer nerds.  We’re counting up, and we have (at a conservative estimate) 15 working computers in the house, and 13 of them are ours.  It’s fairly natural that the kids have more than a passing familiarity with technology.  We make sure to build on that every so often, especially when there’s a ready opportunity. We’ve shown the kids PC internals, enlisted their aid in upgrades and part replacements, involved them in computer discussions. 

At an early age, we make sure that the kids get their hands on one of the hand-me-down laptops.  They get amazingly adept at the keyboard and mouse / touchpad in no time, especially with the incentive of games, MS Paint, word processors, NickJr.com, and YouTube.  I gave our 5 year a simple password so he can log into his computer,and gave the 3 year old a few bookmarks on the favorites bar; he can’t read yet, but he knows P is for Peanut Butter Jelly Time.  Sean started some deeper computer lessons - including web search and navigation, email, typing, and HTML - with our oldest (the girl) when she was 7 or 8. These are things they’ll need to know even if they never want to code the simplest web page. Any zookeeper, musician, artist, museum curator will need to know this at a minimum.

We don’t necessarily want them to get into technology over any other career. But even if they all turn out to be doctors in a backwater part of the world, they’ll be intelligent users who can take advantage of the tech that they need.

To review: Hands on is the way to learn computers, especially as a kid. 

Never a Barrier to the Life They Want

We LOVE technology, and we’re very vocally enthusiastic about it. I’ve had a number of conversations with our oldest along the lines of “technology is so wicked cool, and it’s new in my lifetime….”  We let her have a whack with a sledgehammer at the server we destroyed on air New Year’s Eve. We’ve taken her to user group meetings and SQL Saturdays.  And most recently, I’ve been running some of my session material by her, to clarify the way I explain certain concepts. 

As these kids get older, we’re showing them what we do, and with any luck, showing them that it’s something we enjoy.  That’s the lesson: You can find the thing you want to do.  A career doesn’t have to be a daily exercise in headdesk.

We learned, through lesson and example, to be strong and innovative. I found a career that interests me and pays the bills…I hope my kids will do the same, in whatever field they choose.

Teach your children well.

 -Jen McCown, http://www.MidnightDBA.com/MVP

P.S. No assignment today. If you’d like to write, comment or post the link back here so we can read up on your thoughts!

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