From Experience, STEM's Knowledge

August 22, 2012 | Chicago, IL


With the freedom of summer break, many teenagers are spending countless hours of each day staring at a computer screen. Instead of waiting around for their friends to change their online statuses, students from Erie’s Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) program spent a day at the Chicago-based company GoHealthInsurance.com gaining hands-on experience with the software development process.

As a part of GoHealth’s first annual Teen Tech Day, students attended presentations by Business Analysts, Software Engineers, and Quality Assurance Analysts. GoHealth employees provided detailed, interactive explanations of their roles in software development and answered any questions that students’ had about pursuing careers in technology.

While the overall focus was to inform students about careers in technology, YOU members were also charged with the task of applying their newly acquired knowledge to develop and test their own consumer-based insurance website. To do so, they followed the exact processes that GoHealth’s developers and analysts outlined.

After gathering the necessary “client” information, students wrote HTML code to create a fully functional website. Once the site was working properly, they had to test the site for functionality, ensuring that no “bugs” would cause the site to crash. After figuring out where the “bugs” occurred, students rewrote the HTML code to solve the issues. The YOU students’ enthusiasm, along with the knowledge and support of GoHealth employees, made the whole project a success.

Becky Shepkowski, a GoHealth project manager and Teen Tech Day volunteer noted, “One particular student was especially engrossed in the Quality Assurance tasks. She found bugs that the presenters had not anticipated. Everyone in the room cheered!”

After experiencing a full day in the life of a technology professional, 75% of the students who attended Teen Tech Day said they were now considering a career in technology. Joshua Fulcher, Director of Erie’s YOU program, said, “Learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers helps expose the students to areas of study. It's exciting to see them really respond to these opportunities.”

With an ever-increasing need for skillful, tech-savvy professionals, YOU students walked away inspired to meet that demand in the future. Prepared, no doubt, to test and fix any bugs that may arise while along the way.

Erie House gives a special thank you to the amazing GoHealth staff and to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) for supporting Erie’s STEM mentorship and career shadowing.

 

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