The pace of today’s world seems to be getting faster and faster. Trends, technologies, requirements and possibilities change in a blink of an eye. When I graduated from the Complex of Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic Schools in Toruń (ZSMEiE) 7 years ago, I knew that one day I would work on the largest projects at Allegro Group as well as I know that many others Students don’t have any vision of their future role in their own life. After almost 4 years of my career I decided to share my experience with people who face the same choice I faced 7 years ago.
What can you learn at a secondary school?
At present, the Polish educational system turns students into test-solving experts, but it rarely supports creativity. It does not show that knowledge should be played with and be a tool used to gain experience and practice. After witnessing so many young people during job interviews at various IT companies, I noticed it is very difficult to find a person with suitable knowledge and experience that would join the team and support it from the very beginning.
Confucius once said: “Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I will remember. Involve me, I will understand”. That is why in January I launched the Allegrotech.youth project aimed at carrying out interesting projects to encourage young people to learn more about coding and practicing it on their own. Within the project, we want students to take their first steps in our world by showing them what IT industry involves and what it has to offer.
Law of Attraction – how did it start?
I was thinking about conducting some training at ZSMEiE right after graduation. Each of us, graduates, faced similar opportunities and had access to the same tools. However, only some of us managed to reveal their full potential. When I spotted the opportunity to realise this old idea, I contacted the school principal. I entered her office with a proposition of conducting training, whereas the principal told me she had been thinking about me and she would like me to train her students. Next she proposed me exactly the same thing I had in mind.
Start of a crusade
I started with a meeting with all students from the IT classes to show on my own example how important is creating goals, future vision and gave them answer on basic question - “Why I am done whatever now to live better in the future?”. There were nearly 300 Students there. I asked them about their career plans and their hopes for the future. I asked about the direction their lives would take in a year, in three or in five years. 1% of them knew exactly what they want to do and started to realise their plans. 60% of them thought about studying at higher education institutions, whereas 39% of those young people had no plans, no vision and no real perspective. I told them my story and asked them to join my project. Their positive reaction went far beyond my expectations.
Hobby becomes a challenge
We wanted to invite students to a series of theoretical and practical classes but we ran into some obstacles, among them regulations of the Ministry of Education. Together with the students, we worked to overcome these obstacles and finally on March 5th at 17:00 we were able to present before a group of 80 participants.
The first class was a lecture about agile methodologies applied at Allegro Group. After 2 hours, the participants knew a bit more about working in IT in practice. A week later, we met in an equally large group again to discuss manifestos and paradigms we follow to face the everyday challenges of a digital world. We also presented some tools students can use on a daily basis, i.e. GIT, Trello, or a Linux terminal. :)
Eventually, the participants were divided into 3 thematic groups according to their interests:
- web development
We conducted a test in each group to select 10 persons to create 3 task teams that would explore the secrets of our daily work.
30 students from ZSMEiE that were divided into 3 thematic groups will carry out a project together – they are asked to create from scratch an application for publishing and managing messages presented on a website that is displayed on a any device. We want to show them that coding is exciting and accessible to everyone. Besides, we want to give them an impulse for further self-development and help them integrate with the IT sector. Last but not least, we want to show them the importance of cooperation between programmers, web developers and administrators. The classes will be held from April to late June at the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. I am convinced that the project participants will continue their development and that their career start will be easier.
I would like to say thank you to all persons involved in this project. Thank you Allegro Group for making it happen. Thank you school principal and school administration and you, students from ZSMEiE for your cooperation. Thank you Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń for sharing the rooms. Thank you lecturers for your time and courage to lead the young generation on this educational path.