December 19, 2017 | Written by: James Young
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Reflecting upon my career with IBM, I realize that I followed an atypical path. I started working for the company before I received my college degree and completed both my undergraduate and graduate education while working my way up the company ladder. Navigating my way through a constantly transforming company in an era of rapid innovation was not easy, and it required help from many mentors both formal and informal along the way. These people recognized my potential, steered me in the right direction, and connected me to the right resources to succeed. They humanized the company and opened doors of opportunity that I didn’t know existed. So now as an IBM Practice Leader, with overall responsibility for ongoing projects at customer sites, including staff hiring, I consider it my duty to pay forward my success by opening those doors of opportunity to future generations.
The author with P-TECH students at Carver Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore, MD
As a mentor for P-TECH, I understand the importance of providing resources that are not available to many students on a daily basis. P-TECH is a six-year high school model developed by IBM in collaboration with high schools, community colleges, and businesses to align school curricula with industry skills that are in high demand – focusing on fast-growing sectors such as IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and energy technology.
What I have seen in my P-TECH students is not a lack of ability, but rather a lack of resources to build the skills they need to succeed in a tech savvy world. P-TECH students display many of the same qualities I see in many of the young students I interview for jobs within my practice. Creative, ambitious, and mission-minded, these students also work tirelessly to pursue activities meaningful to themselves and to their peers. With guidance from mentors who can advise students about the career opportunities available and the skills required to succeed, students approach their futures without many of the usual barriers to their education. The young people I have met are so competitive and driven to achieve their goals, that a simple exercise with building structures from spaghetti sticks and marshmallows became a release of creativity and innovative thinking that proved their potential to excel. P-TECH students are dreamers, and our mentors help them become doers who bring about change in our world one step at a time.
P-TECH stands behind the idea that when ambition meets opportunity, success happens. No matter where you are on your career path, you can be the source of opportunity that brings out the potential in a student. Your years of expertise and exposure to industry are invaluable to these students. As you reflect upon 2017 and plan resolutions for 2018, I ask that you consider being a mentor for a program like P-TECH. Empowering students also empowers you as you recognize the impact your voice has on the future. Malala Yousafzai once said that one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. This year, I hope you become that teacher who changes someone’s world for the better.
James Young is Associate Partner – Microsoft Public Sector Industry Lead with IBM Global Business Services.
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