Silicon Valley beckons as Wellington East Girls gear up for the future of IT

In a bid to boost female number of IT workers in New Zealand, a group of Wellington East girls experienced first hand what it’s like to work for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dreamworks, Boeing and Adobe.

Connaire McKeefry, a Wellington East Girls’ College student, is challenging her own stereotype.

She is a bright, young women predisposed to studying law or commerce, but after a life changing school trip last year, she is now focussed on a future in ICT.

McKeefry was one of 39 Wellington East Girls’ pupils who visited Silicon Valley and Seattle in the United States last year on a trip designed to counter the ‘computer-nerd’ myth and to show students what a real job in the ICT sector actually looks like.

“It’s all very well to hear in class about how the ICT industry is huge and that there is not many woman in ICT roles,” McKeefry says.

“But you get another level of understanding by actually visiting Facebook and Google. Now I know what is really out there.”

The trip was arranged to inspire young female students to consider ICT as a future career and to encourage them to plan their studies to that end.

Using the Ministry of Education’s Youth Guarantee Vocational Pathways tools students are able to choose a combination of subjects, which will help them be better prepared for further study or work in a specific industry – like ICT.

“A trip like this one means that students can immediately connect with an industry or sector and this is likely to inspire them to direct their study toward a certain career," adds Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee.

"It is essential that young people at school have more choices, ways and places to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualifications.

"When students study subjects in areas which are relevant and interesting to them, then they are much more likely to stay at school and secure the qualifications they need for the future.”

The group experienced first hand what it’s like to work for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dreamworks, Boeing and Adobe.

Not only did they get high level information and tours, but they got to talk freely with employees – even over lunch in the canteen - to get a real understanding of what the day-to-day work involves.

Head of Digital Technologies and Computing at the college, Cris Roughton says there’s been a high level of excitement since the party has returned and that has had a huge impact on engagement.

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