Cracking the Code
Tech training starts early with elementary schoolers in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day initiative
After a Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day program at our headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, one enthused 8-year old boy grilled his father about computer password practices, emphasizing the importance of using special characters, numbers and capital letters, and then showed his sister how to program a game.
That boy’s dad, Buddy, is a Business Analyst with JPMorgan Chase's Consumer Practices Division and says his son, Leo, loved the program. “When I came to pick him up, he was coding away like mad," Buddy recalls. “When he looked up and saw me, his first reaction was, 'Dad, look at the game I made!'"
More than 1,500 children of employees have participated in the program throughout the U.S., UK and Hong Kong. These kids not only see up close where their moms and dads work, but also gain critical skills that will help them succeed in the future.
“This program provides the opportunity for parents to bring their children in for a day of fun and educational activities," says Julia B., an analyst with our Technology for Social Good Team and overseer of the initiative. “We try to teach the kids technology skills that they can carry with them beyond just that day."
The program was piloted in Delaware and New York in 2014, and was expanded worldwide in 2015, with nearly 400 employees volunteering to help make it happen. The agenda emphasizes cyber security and computer programing, with the understanding that online security is critical to helping kids succeed in an increasingly digital world. Additionally, coding demands critical thinking strategies and problem-solving skills that benefit kids regardless of their future professions.
“By empowering employees to inspire their children to explore technology at an early age, we're helping to prepare these kids for a bright future," Julia says. "The sooner kids start learning technology, the more likely they are to pursue computer science-related fields later in life."
Yet not enough children in the U.S. are learning skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Less than half of the 2013 U.S. High School graduates were prepared for college-level math (44%) and college-level science (36%). The result? According to Code.org, by 2020 there will be 1 million more computing jobs than students able to fill these roles.footnote 1
The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day initiative is one of several that encourage our employees to help fill this tech void. Through our Code for Good program, employees work with college students during 24-hour coding challenges in cities around the world to benefit nonprofits in their local communities. Another program, Force for Good, is a technology training and development program that leverages the expertise of employee volunteers to provide nonprofits with technology solutions.
"We love to see our talented staffers give back to their communities. It's a big part of who we are. And our unique engagement programs are essential in creating our caring, family-friendly culture."Paul Compton, Chief Administrative Officer
The global program will be offered again in 2016 and may expand to include more locations. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with 95 percent of parents surveyed saying they would participate again next year. "Some employees even said it was the best day of their work experience so far," Julia says.