Kids these days are so…

by Brian Raney, Co-Founder, Awesome Inc

SMART. I’ve heard numerous quotes from adults about how kids these days are so lazy, entitled, irresponsible. “The future seems bleak,” we’ll say to one another when we hear about a trouble maker kid that refuses to work hard at school or the student athlete that thinks they don’t have to earn the starting position on the sports team. I’ve murmured these quotes more times than I can remember.

But this summer, I found myself murmuring something else. I had the pleasure of working closely with over fifty middle and high school students through our Kids Code Camps at Awesome Inc. These kids restored my faith in this next generation. They were smart, hard working, and motivated. They couldn’t get enough of the computer programming knowledge that our staff was offering them.

“Now that we’re done with this game, can we go back to coding?” said one 9-year-old student after finishing a game of ping pong during one of the mid day breaks.

Kids take programming class, give us hope for the future

These kids were eager to learn how to program apps, video games, and web sites. It was a breath of fresh air.

And, fortunately for these kids, there’s never been a better match between an increasingly popular interest and the skills the workforce needs today! According to the nonprofit Code.org, there are currently more than 150,000 computing jobs available in America. That number is expected to be 1,000,000 by 2020. In Kentucky, there are over 3,500 reported open jobs in computing. Computing jobs have an average starting salary of $60-80K.

The opportunities get even more interesting if you’re considering using these skills to make & sell your own software instead of someone else’s. Facebook, a company started one decade ago, is worth over $200 billion, while Ford Motor, a leading automobile company that was started over a century ago, is worth about $50 billion. Not bad, Henry Ford, but that means Mark Zuckerberg has created value forty times faster than you (it’s also not a bad place to work - according to a former Awesome Inc team member that now works at Facebook).

I’ve been inspired watching these kids learn computer science principles and build applications of their own. In 10-20 years, these kids will be building the software that runs our cars, houses, and healthcare systems. So, if you know a kid who might enjoy a future in software development, how do you help him or her get started?

There are a variety of great learn-to-code opportunities that have shown up on the scene over the past few years. The best place to start is with the Hour of Code from Code.org. Over 10 million people got their introduction to coding during this event, which launched last December. Many students get exposed to the Hour of Code in their schools, but the free resources organized by Code.org can be accessed at home on any computer with a web browser. A great next step is the self-guided curriculum from Codecademy.com. This site offers a smooth introduction to a variety of popular programming languages like JavaScript and Ruby. From there, taking in-person courses is a solid option. While only 10% of K-12 schools offer computer courses, there are a variety of other offerings. There are some free options like CoderDojo, as well as paid summer programs like iD Tech Camps, One Day Crash Courses and semester-long programs like our Awesome Inc Academy.

Kids these days are so smart. Let’s treat them that way and give them the opportunities they deserve.