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Behind the Scenes at AfterCollege: Steve Helps Kids Explore STEM

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Here at AfterCollege, our primary goal is to help college students and recent grads rock their job search, but we also love supporting students throughout their academic careers. Our VP of Engineering, Steve Girolami, is a big advocate of STEM (i.e. science, technology, engineering, and math), and has even vowed that he’ll teach his two kids—who are both still in diapers, BTW—to code. He shares one of his recent volunteer experiences below.

I was recently invited to be a guest judge for a Citizen Schools’ WOW event that took place on Tuesday, May 21.

I encourage you to read more about what they do. To put it simply, STEM leaders in the community volunteer their time to after school programs, through Citizen Schools, to inspire and delight students with science and math through fun experiments. The end goal is to inspire new generations of students to pursue careers in a STEM field.

I was asked to judge two kids from McKinley and their project “Bootstrap.” Erick and Kiara wrote computer games using racket under the mentorship of two software developers from Google.

I know what you might be thinking… wait, what!? Somebody asked Steve to judge children? Did he make them cry? Well, no one else from AfterCollege was there to verify it, so you’ll just have to take my word that no, that did not happen. [Editor's note: I believe Steve is generally a pretty trustworthy guy, so I think it's safe to take his word for it... this time.]

I was inspired. Do you remember when everything was new? When you were given a completely foreign topic that you had to research, comprehend, and present to a room of strangers? Well that’s what these two kids did. It reminded me of all the science experiments I did for school, and for fun (yes, I was a nerd).

The award I presented to Erick and Kiara was for a demonstration of mastery. Besides their creativity and imagination, they learned a very important skill that translates to the real world. The developers at AfterCollege are frequently challenged with new problems and new subject matter, like new programming languages we need to research, learn, practice with, and implement in a production environment. That learning cycle never changes for the life of a software developer. Until they retire and beyond, learning new things is a way of life; it’s a skill to be practiced every day.

Erick and Kiara learned from their Google mentors that software developers are great learners, that learning is a skill to be developed, and that it doesn’t end with high school or even college.

The goal of the program and the STEM WOW award is to inspire these kids to get excited about a career in a STEM field. I was happy to be a small part of that.

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