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March 16, 2017

Busting 7 Myths about Technology Careers – Part 6

BustTheTechMythsTo date, we’ve knocked down these myths:
  1. Technology is all about coding, math and science
  2. Working in technology requires a 4-year college degree
  3. If it’s not at Facebook or Google, it’s not a technology job
  4. A tech career means being stuck at a desk
  5. And “Money is the main benefit of a tech job.”
Now, let’s topple a myth about parent-teen relationships that can extend beyond the discussion of technology careers:

“My kids won’t listen to me.”


Last weekend, I sat on a panel at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, with three other executives to discuss “Apprenticeships and Solving the IT Skills Gap.” The session was one of about a half dozen speaking engagements scheduled for me at industry conferences this year. Speaking to groups of people is a pretty comfortable experience at this point in my life, but nothing prepares you for dealing with an angry or hurt teenager.

Charles speaking at SXSWI’ve had my share of doors slammed in my face by my step-daughter, Lindsay, during her teenage years. And when the discussion wasn’t quite so heated, I’ve had many moments talking to my step-son, Dylan, and Lindsay with the sinking feeling that my words were falling on deaf ears. (I’m not out those woods yet, by the way, as my last two children aren’t too far from middle school.)

It’s not a pleasant experience, that sense of futility, because you care deeply and you want to help with every means at your disposal.

Well, don’t despair. There’s hope – at least in terms of advice on college and careers.

In Creating IT Futures’ /researching-solutions/teen-views-on-tech-careers">Teen Views on Tech Careers study, we asked teens who they rely on most to talk about careers. The most frequent answer was “parents and guardians.” At 68 percent, that answer was given more than two times more often than “teachers” (28 percent) and “school counselors” (25 percent). They do listen to you. Maybe not all the time about everything you’d like to tell them. But most likely they’re listening more often than you think they are – especially when the topic is as important as their future. So, educating yourself about issues and options is critical.

That’s why I wrote How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education. (We released the book earlier this month. It’s available to our blog readers at a 10-percent discount. Visit TinSTEM.com and enter BLOG17 as the coupon code.)

In the guide, I cover some key subjects that will help in conversations with your kids. There are a lot of preconceived notions about what a tech career means, but if you have some answers to your teen’s questions, and are willing to research the rest, your kids are likely to respect and heed your advice. And from my experience, once you become a trusted resource to your kids, they’ll keep coming back for more counsel. Lindsay and Dylan are now 25 and 23, and although they live out of the house, we see them once or twice a week. Almost every time we are together, we talk about their jobs, how to grow in their careers, and how to manage people. Lindsay especially has been asking for leadership advice as she now has staff reporting to her. It’s a gratifying feeling after all those years of wondering if the messages were getting through.

For the final installment of our myth-toppling trip, we debunk: “Tech jobs are going overseas.”