Two NetCentrics employees, Loilette Loderick and Colby Proffitt, recently spoke to more than 100 students at Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, about potential careers in the IT field and the future of technology. Hammond students in 6th-8th grade have the opportunity to participate in the Hour of Code, a program dedicated to teaching students about coding and technology. The Hour of Code gives the students hands-on experience with coding and allows them to meet experts in the IT field. The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one hour coding activities but expanding to a variety of community efforts.
Loilette, a Senior Web Application Engineer for NetCentrics at the United States Coast Guard, shared how she started her career in IT, the obstacles she faced and overcame, and encouraged the students, “No matter what happens, never give up. You have to use every obstacle in life to motivate yourself.” She also described some of the work she does currently, monitoring and removing threats from the network and its applications and gave the students a demonstration in a virtual environment. To demonstrate the type of attacks she counters, Loilette injected SQL commands and html script to deface a test website she created. As she explained what she was doing to the students, she emphasized the need for curiosity. She said, “It’s important to talk to students, but showing them the power of code in action – that’s how you really motivate them and help them learn.” The number of questions that followed her demonstration were a sure sign of both curiosity and motivation.
Colby explained that students don’t have to be extremely technical to work in IT and offered some advice, “Pursue what you are passionate about, never be afraid to ask questions, and always be willing to learn something new.” He likened a career in IT to the life of a student – each job like a grade that teaches you something new and prepares you for the next one.
Both Loilette and Colby were impressed by the students’ questions, which ranged from surprisingly technical coding questions, to questions about current trends and the future of technology. Loilette said about the experience, “It was really encouraging to hear such smart questions from these students at such a young age. That’s the kind of curiosity you need to be successful in the IT field.”
Meeting with these students helps reinforce one of NetCentrics’ core values – to engage with each other and our community. To learn more about the Hour of Code, visit https://hourofcode.com/us.