Girls in Rogers County encouraged to pursue IT careers

Girls in Rogers County encouraged to pursue IT careers
Posted on 02/07/2018
Sequoyah students Danielle Williams and Alana Johnson, were two of more than 60 high school girls who participated in Northeast Tech’s Jobs for the Girls event in early February. More than 60 high school girls visited Northeast Tech’s Claremore Campus last week for a special event designed to educate them about the career opportunities available in the technology field. Known as, “Jobs for the Girls,” the event not only gave the students an inside look at the home automation program at Northeast Tech, it also allowed them the chance to test their skill on a basic cabling project.

“The technology industry offers you a lot of different job options,” said Northeast Tech Instructor Ron Stearnes in his opening comments to the guests. “These are good paying jobs that are available locally and throughout the world.”

After giving a basic overview of the home automation program, the skills required and job outlook, Stearnes then took his spot at the workstation at the front of the room to lead the girls through a cable termination project. A variety of supplies and tools was present at each place setting, and step-by-step, the girls learned one of the most basic tasks taught in the home automation program. Even though the task was simple, the girls had mixed responses about the detailed work.

“I definitely think I would get aggravated at this job,” said Alana Johnson as she worked to separate the wires in her stripped cable. “I'm not fast enough. It also kinda bugs me that the green wires are not together. I think I might be a little OCD.”

A few tables away, Brianna Papke was flying through each of the steps, and she credited her success to past work experience.

“I work as an Eagle Tech at school, and I've done this lots of times,” said Papke. “As a tech I fix DVD players, the memory on computers, broken components, lots of stuff. I spend 45 minutes each day working on basically anything that has to do with computers.”

Others were not as confident as Papke.

“This is really kind of hard!” said Emily Casey. “I really hope this is right. I like lining the wires up in the connector, but it’s hard. When it's right it's so nice.”

At the end of their allotted project time, the students took a quick break and then reconvened to hear from three women who work in the IT industry. Mary Ensey is an account executive at Convergint Technologies, and she was candid with the girls about the challenges of being one of very few women in the security industry.

“It was intimidating. It is still intimidating at times, but you have to know you can do it,” Ensey said. “Every one of us can do it.”

Ensey was one of three guest speakers who presented to the students on the second day of the two-day event. The group of students from Sequoyah was the third to participate in the Jobs for the Girls event hosted at the

Claremore Campus. In addition to sharing her professional journey and covering topics like education and work experience, she also shared the challenges she overcame along the way.

“I didn’t go to college, and at one point I was living on the street,” said Ensey. “But I had a wonderful woman who took me in and told me that I was better than that. It took one person to believe in me, and to this day and I thank her. She pushed me to be more.”

Sarah Juardo of Pinnacle Business also shared her journey to an IT career, which ironically, was boosted by a female guest speaker.

“At first it was really intimidating, because I knew nothing about computers,” said Juardo. “But someone came in to speak to our program - it was a woman - and she inspired me. I could tell she enjoyed her job and she made good money.”

Juardo’s colleague, Eve Peppers, closed out the presentation with encouraging words and by sharing a plethora of resources available to women in technology industries.

“Don't feel like you have to go it alone,” Peppers said. “Find a mentor or find a group of women that can help you. Statistics are low for women in this industry so opportunities for the few of us who dare to go there are huge.”
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