Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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September 22, 2014

Research shows teens’ career thoughts have multiple motivations — any of which a career in IT could satisfy

Note: This is part of an ongoing series about research into how urban teens and parents relate to tech careers.

When it comes to future careers, low income Hispanic and African-American teens seem to align pretty closely on most fronts. Having a job they love, going to college, and owning their own homes are priorities shared across the board.

But a survey of urban teens conducted by Creating IT Futures found some statistically significant differences between groups in what motivations mattered the most in pursuing a career.

For example, compared to other groups, African-American teen girls disproportionally value working independently, while teen Hispanic girls said they sought a career they love that also allows them to help their parents financially.

For their part, Hispanic boys indicated a desire for jobs in which they can manage other people and support a family. Meanwhile, more than the other groups, African-American teens valued a career as a means to owning their own home and earning more money.

The findings come from research sponsored by the Creating IT Futures Foundation — the philanthropic arm of CompTIA — working in partnership with Versta Research and Doyle Research. The purpose of the research was to better understand how minority youths living in urban centers think about and plan for their futures, along with what drives or discourages their interest in IT careers.

“Because IT careers are broad in nature, we know the industry can meet a teen’s aspirations, whether that’s independence, authority, personal satisfaction or an upwardly mobile income,” said Charles Eaton, CEO of the Creating IT Futures Foundation. “The fact more teens don’t consider IT careers shows we could do a better job in helping them associate personal goals with industry opportunities. This research will help us do that.”

Collectively, the teens cited these aspirations as being extremely important:
  • Having a job they loved (88 percent)
  • Getting more training and education after high school (79 percent)
  • Going to college (78 percent)
  • Helping parents with housing or money (76 percent)
  • Owning their own home (76 percent)
About two-thirds of all the teens surveyed, regardless of gender or ethnicity, said that making a contribution to society was extremely important to them.

Diving more deeply into demographic groups, the research found that:
  • Getting married and providing for a family was especially important for Hispanic boys (69 percent).
  • Owning their own homes and earning money was extremely important to African-American boys (81 percent). Seventy-nine percent said helping other people also was especially important.
  • Hispanic girls said having a job they love (94 percent) was extremely important. Helping parents with money or housing (82 percent) and gaining independence from families (79) also was extremely important.
  • African-American girls said having a career that others respect was extremely important (77 percent), as was “moving into a better neighborhood” (72 percent).