At the end of next month, I’ll be hanging up my project manager hat and embarking on a new journey. Over the past year, I’ve been balancing my role here at Oak City Labs with graduate school as I’m pursuing my Master’s of Arts degree in Teaching from Meredith College. Though I’ve spent the better part of the past decade working in the technology industry, I felt a shift in my goals and interests and, with the amazing support of the Oak City Labs leadership team, I decided to make a career change.

Why tell you this?

Because in some ways, I’m not really leaving the technology industry at all. I’ll just be applying my skills in a different way to a different set of “clients” (read: elementary school students).

In my time spent in graduate school and in field placement positions this past year, it has become increasingly clear to me that there is more of a need for globally-minded, technologically-equipped educators than ever before. The reality is that educators need to be preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Yes, you read that correctly. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% students entering elementary school now (aka my future “clients” if you will) will hold jobs that don’t even exist yet. And that data is two years old. The numbers have certainly increased since then.

I think about some of my recent blog posts on artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and machine vision. As cutting edge as these technologies are, odds are they will have significantly evolved by the time current primary and younger secondary school students graduate high school in 8-10 years. Therefore, instead of preparing students for specific jobs, we are charged with preparing students with skill sets that will grow with them as this world also grows.

Figuratively, that preparation is a multi-layered, interdisciplinary approach to learning beginning with the earliest grades through high school graduation. It looks different for every student and every teacher. Practically that preparation begins with integrating meaningful technology in the classroom, expanding student learning through social studies and science, as well as enhancing student understanding through the arts.  

The hope is through all of our efforts, we’ll prepare students not for the jobs that artificial intelligence will certainly replace, but for new jobs that work alongside artificial intelligence. While machine vision may eliminate the need for a factory worker to inspect products, machine vision will certainly create the need for software engineers to manage the inspection system. And desirable software engineers will need to possess specific skills in technology, along with soft skills like critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, communication and creativity/innovation.

So I leave this role, company and industry with a lot of change ahead, but I’m hopeful that my efforts will foster students that are better prepared for those jobs that don’t even exist yet. And maybe even some future employees of Oak City Labs.

PS – Did you hear? We’re currently on the hunt for a project manager and software developer. Check out our Careers page for more information and job details.

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