Program lets eighth-grade girls explore tech careers

CHAMPION — The “We are It!” program offered an opportunity for more than 100 eighth-grade girls to experience different information technology career fields.

Cara DeToro, career development coordinator at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, said the one-day workshop allowed students to take part in hands-on learning sessions led by TCTC staff members Terri Fleming, Rhonda Orr, Cindy Hickey and Laura Henning

DeToro said information technology and other related careers are in demand and will be in the future, yet females are underepresented in the industry.

The eighth-graders were from 15 of 18 Trumbull County middle schools and experienced fields that use or are related to IT, especially engineering,  graphic design and binary coding.

In addition, there were four sessions that focus on career exploration. Activities involved engineering, Photoshop, computer coding and IT.

”In addition to the technology skills these young ladies will experience, the day is an opportunity to practice important employment soft skills, like networking, group collaboration, problem solving and innovation,” DeToro said.

DeToro said TCTC hosted the event since all Tech Prep programs are in the building that were previously at Kent State University at Trumbull.

“We ask each school’s guidance counselor to select students who are interested in math and science fields,” she said.

For the Photoshop class, girls created images on computers; for the engineering class, students made plastic; and for the binary class, they learned how to code their names.

DeToro said the career exploration event has been held for more than 10 years allowing girls to see careers often not looked at by female students.

“With technology always changing, many students can benefit from these career fields, especially females being underrepresented in some fields,” she said.

DeToro said many of the innovators in the engineering and science fields are men.

Terri Fleming, a TCTC engineering instructor, said many engineers make products and services to help companies.

Kaley Lee, 14, of Bristol, said she took part in the event to see what it would be like to use computers and technology.  She said she liked the four different sessions students could attend.

Lexi Betker, 13, of Bristol, said she was not sure what it would be like to be part of the day’s event but was glad she took part.

Samantha Baker, 13, of Liberty, said she liked the Photoshop activities.

“My sister went to TCTC. The programs are very interesting and have been fun,” she said.

Lexi Czajkowski, 13, of Liberty, said she liked the Photoshop class since she would like to one day be in a photography field.