In early November, I found myself leading a busload of college students on a technology tour of central Iowa. It was part of Experience Iowa Technology, a program created by the Technology Association of Iowa that targets college students also studying computer science and MIS-related curriculum.
The tour was a great success. 60 students from Iowa colleges and universities had a chance to peer inside Des Moines' technology and startup community. It began with a visit to Start-up City on Thursday night for a Tech Brew and also Pitch and Grow. On Friday, they toured several central Iowa employers to learn about the IT within each company and also meet the people and leaders who drive it. The experience ended with an evening event at Exile Brewing Company.
As a middle-aged man leading one of the Friday tour buses full of college students, I had several revelations. One is that I am far older than I feel and, although it just seems like yesterday that I was in college, at least 25 years separated me and the students. That was followed by a wave of insecurity that had me questioning my sense of style, vitality, and overall coolness. My 11 and 13-year-old boys have been openly questioning this over the past several years, but I always chalked it up to our father-son relationship.
Once I got over myself, I observed a number of these students focused on their interest of the world around them, confident in their interaction with a number of intimidating people and situations, and saw, with the benefit of hindsight, our world again, now through the eyes of young people with their whole lives ahead of them. It reminded me that this is the point in your life where the world opens up to you with all of its possibilities.
With the projections for IT job growth as they are, there are also a lot of possibilities for the students. It was evident that the companies involved in Experience Iowa Technology recognized their future is within these students. They made great efforts to make a positive impression. They didn't just bring out a tour guide to show them around the joint. At one company there were nine managers from various business units who spoke to the students. Every company took the time to showcase their technology, tools, and career opportunities.
For the students, this was their first glimpse at what a career looks like. Internships are on their horizon. These tours afforded them the chance to see what's available at many companies in central Iowa. And speaking of Iowa, keeping them home upon graduation is one of the goals of this program.
This is the second year I've participated in this event. I'm excited to also see the growth. We're also going to host another Experience Iowa Technology in February.
Also, a huge thanks to everyone involved that made this event possible. Most importantly the eleven host member employers of the Technology Association of Iowa. I want to list each of them to say thanks. Appcore, Blue Compass, Carrier Access, and Casey's. Dice.com, Entrepreneurial Technologies, and GuideOne Insurance. John Deere, Meredith Corporation, and Visionary Services.