Adam Brown, Teacher, Dublin High School
“I teach at one of the three STEM-based academies at Dublin High School. I have shifted from teaching math to teaching computer science, and want to know what’s most current in the industry and translate that to my students. To help, I signed up last summer for an Earn & Learn East Bay teacher externship in the cyber-security department at Sandia National Laboratories.
It was an exciting two week opportunity, and gave me many insights into this specialized field. I met with people in several departments, sat in on meetings, interviewed college interns working there and absorbed, not only the company’s daily processes, but their recruiting needs, expectations and hiring and firing practices.
A teacher externship is a ‘must’ for any teacher that teaches an applied discipline. My teaching practices were expanded and it raised my standards. My students’ overall performance is much better, as is their expectations of themselves.
One of the most enlightening aspects of this experience was realizing how much tech companies are looking for the “soft” skills as well as the technical in recruiting talent. Skills in communication, research, presentation and collaboration all come into play daily at Sandia both in their hiring and expectations of employees. Sandia requires hires to sit in front of a panel and give a forty-five minute presentation in which they communicate immense amounts of technical background in a clear way. Basically, translating tech talk into non-tech talk. After seeing this, I began assigning more presentations in class and working on those skills with my students who now know it’s definitely going to be required of them in the real world.
I also learned that at Sandia, 60-70% of their new hires come from internship programs. My externship helped me develop a better relationship with Sandia to give my students a way to have these opportunities. I invited my Sandia host to my classroom as a guest speaker to make connections with students directly. It was motivating for many of my students who went on to design and pursue related tech projects and complex websites independently.
Dublin Unified School District benefits from participating in Earn & Learn with connections to employers and support student readiness for work-based learning. Businesses are motivated to participate with Earn & Learn. They need talent, and want to reach out as much as they can. We hear from employers that some of our high school students are even better prepared than the college graduates they’re recruiting. With help from Earn & Learn, we’re developing young people who are stronger candidates for good jobs.