Saturday, March 12, 2016

Career Presentation @ James Fowler High School 2016

This past Thursday I did some presentations at James Fowler High School on what an IT (Information Technology) career is like.  I had a total of 3 presentations in the morning.  This was my second year presenting at James Fowler.  See this blog post for thoughts on my 2015 presentation.

The class I presented in (room 330 this year) held about 40 students.  The first two presentations it was full.  The third presentation had about 25 students.

I had my 'new, updated' presentation on, however the computer I was presenting off of crashed right before the first presentation.  Yay IT! -> that's a sarcastic comment.  We managed to get it up and running in short order and after that things went well....  Click on the image below to view my presentation.

Click the image to view my presentation
Some thoughts I had after wrapping up:

  • IT doesn't seem to be as interesting, exciting, or sexy as some other career options out there.  For example, the Calgary Police had to present in the gym (due to the amount of interest).  Here's some food for thought for people considering a career in policing (or  the fire department, or being an EMT):
    • These careers involved shift work.  While that might seem interesting for a young person, I'll guarantee you don't want to be working shifts for the rest of your life if you can help it.  Its hard on your body physically and emotionally, and it can be hard on your family. 
    • The fact that they are exciting correlates closely to the fact that they also can be quite stressful.  Can you deal well with a lot of stress?  Some people can, some can't.
  • I wondered how I could make an IT career a more palatable, exciting option for students.  Perhaps it was by demonstrating that some of the richest people in the world currently had made their fortunes with IT?  (Bill Gates, Kevin O'Leary, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc.)  Or maybe it was by showing that the next biggest threat to the world was cyber related?  
  • One of the big changes in careers in the last few decades has been the fact that irrespective of what career you target, you need to be prepared to learn for the rest of your life.  Technology is influencing and changing every career out there, and technology isn't going to stand still. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lost in Life? Extraordinary is Waiting for You

For years I lived with the fear that I wasn't entirely following God's plan for my life.  I was trying to as best I could, but I thought maybe I wasn't hearing His direction good enough, or I turned 'left' instead of 'right' at a crucial juncture and as a result, I missed God's perfect plan for my life.  Recently, I've been realizing (to my relief) that this was wrong thinking and a wrong perspective.

Over Christmas I watched part of this teaching below by Kris Vallotton on 'God's Purpose for our Lives' and got a glimpse of something I hadn't seen before - God's grace in the direction of my life.

How did I see that specifically, you may ask?  Well, in part of this talk above, Kris talks about how everyone wants to be 'extraordinary' - to be seen as special.  Kind of like 'The Special' in The Lego Movie.  We all have had the desire (I think) at some point in our lives to feel that way.  I always felt I had to be in the centre of God's perfect plan for my life to feel extraordinary..... and I didn't feel like that very often, so I felt like I was, perhaps, missing God, or not hearing Him, or making wrong turns, or something.

However, Kris suggests in his talk above that God has me right where He wants me, right now in this moment.  That was a liberating thought for me.  However, Kris took it further and added that if I want to live an extraordinary life, to simply ask God to come and help me be and/or do extra ordinary things today with the responsibilities and tasks that I have before me right now.  Examples he gives in the talk above: David was a shepherd when God empowered him to kill a lion, a bear, and a giant.  The disciples were fisherman before Jesus called them.  Gideon was a farmer.  Ruth was gleaning (would you consider that farming?).  Joseph was a prisoner.  I'm realizing that God can meet me right where I'm at, right now in my life.  I don't have to worry or fear any longer that I'm not in the middle of His plan for me.  He has a plan for me in this moment and place.  All I have to do is ask for Him to come and join me.

I'm trying....   will you?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What to Consider if You're Considering College - Book Review

I found this book at Chapters and it (of course) piqued my curiosity, given the title and content.  Frankly, this was another book that made me reconsider my own quest in writing a book for high school grads, as this one covers a lot of good material.   Chapters discuss the importance of good choices, knowing yourself, different types of colleges and technical institutes, volunteering, travel, and other options and considerations for high school grads.

There are different editions of the book published for different markets.  Canadian and American editions exist (and potentially other regions as well) and there are also College and University editions.  I bought an American College edition in Canada (go figure).  It was almost 270 pages.

While the authors covered a lot of good content, I think I would have found the book a bit of a hard slog to finish if I was 18 years old.  Parts of it weren't as engaging as I would have expected, given the target audience.  If you're a more cerebral high school grad, and your trying to figure out what to do, this might be the book for you.  As the authors aptly point out in the book: 'College is an expensive place to get your head together.'

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Musing on Careers - New and Old

I did an informational interview with a student from one of my SAIT classes earlier this week, and one of his questions got me thinking.  He asked me what it was like starting a career in Information Technology before Google went public - as he put it, 'when IT was a cool and cutting edge industry with browsers and technology changing and evolving all the time.'

I answered him as best I could.  I felt I started my IT career at the tail end of that whole 'gold rush' as it were.  In many ways it felt like a bit of a lottery - if you chose the right company to work for, you could get rather rich;  if you chose the right technology or language to become an expert in, you could also get rich.  But if you missed out on either of those choices, well, it might not be the fairy-tale experience we hear in so many stories.  I fortunately chose a good language to focus on (java) at that time, and that helped establish my career.

I was reflecting on that conversation this evening, and I realized that while I had managed to get into IT reasonable close to when new media started going main stream, I have also had the distinction of having a career in an 'industry in decline' - print media.  Specifically newsprint.  That was a different feeling.  It was not well paying.  There was shift work.  Certainly more dangerous.  In fact, I just realized tonight that when we did maintenance on the press, we never 'locked it out' - a standard safety practice in many industries I had learned over a decade earlier in the saw mill.  The support for education (getting a journeyman's ticket) in the industry was poor.  In fact, it was a bit of joke.  We ran huge presses that would hardly fit in a gym, and the journeyman course was on a press that would fit in a closet.

What is the lesson here?  .... I can hear you thinking.

I got into printing because an organization had a need and I was asked to fill it.  I was tired of formal education and learning theory without practical, hands on experience.  I wanted to feel productive.  Printing really scratched that itch for me.  I didn't care how much I was making.  The product of my labour was tangible - I could see it and I knew I was learning good things and getting experience, and that felt good.

There's a time though, when you need to examine where you are and what your doing with your life.  Ask yourself if you can continue doing this for another 10 or 20 years.  Does it make practical sense for you to do it for that much longer?  Will it affect your health and your quality of life down the line, etc.  That's what my wife and I did.  And as a result, we sold our house, moved, and I went back to school.