DC Students visit White House, Federal Agencies through Junior Achievement Federal IT Job Shadow partnership

Today, Junior Achievement (JA) of Greater Washington sent 12 Dunbar High School and Anacostia High School students to the White House to learn about cybersecurity through the Federal Information Technology (IT) Job Shadow partnership between the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council Workforce Committee and JA of Greater Washington.

During this event, the students had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities. To start the day, there was a presentation on the various IT job opportunities within the Executive Office of the President (EOP). They were given information about how to apply for internships during college and how to become involved with the federal government, post high school graduation. The students were then placed in teams and tasked with solving problems ranging from social media performance and app design to program management and threat analysis. During the last rotation the activity was cut short with a surprise visit from the Chief Information Officer of the United States, Tony Scott. Mr. Scott sat down with the students and had an open discussion about his life and how he got to be where he is today. He shared life stories from his humble beginnings in the Midwest as a teenager with no direction to becoming CIO of The Walt Disney Co. He impressed upon the students to 'find their passion' and to know that it is never too late to accomplish your goals. After giving a brief bio of himself he opened the floor to questions. The students were very inspired by his candor, which made for a very personal and inspiring conversation.

When Mr. Scott left, the students finished their last rotation and then headed for a tour of the East Wing of the White House. Here, the students took pictures and asked questions about specific rooms and art pieces. After wrapping up for a group photo at the back door, the students headed over to the Truman Bowling Alley for lunch and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to bowl at the White House.

The day wrapped up back in the Indian Treaty Room with a panel discussion from experts in law to social media. These four panelists all talked about how they stumbled upon working for the White House. Their stories were very different, but they each shared the 'I never thought I would work here' feeling. This panel gave the students a whole new perspective on how diverse the IT jobs are within the White House. 

This event pairs Federal Agencies with area high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in government information technology (IT). Students have the opportunity to shadow Federal IT professionals at Federal facilities in their communities and learn about the innovative work being done to improve transparency, communication, and cost efficiencies for American citizens.

In addition to the White House IT Job Shadow occurring today, over the next few months over 200 students in the DMV area will have the opportunity to visit one of the following federal agencies:

*           US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

*           Department of Justice (DOJ)

*           National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

*           Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

*           Health and Human Services (HHS)

*           Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

*           Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

*           Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

*           National Institute of Health (NIH)

*           Department of the Interior (DOI)

*           General Services Administration (GSA)

*           Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)

*           Social Security Administration

*           Health Resources and Services Administration

Just last month, while speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, President Barack Obama emphasized that one of his main priorities in his last year in office was to recruit "high-tech entrepreneurs" and top IT Talent to go into government service.

In an article written about his conversation with Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith at SXSW, President Obama was quoted as saying, "It's not enough to just focus on the cool next thing. I will expect you to step up and get involved, because [government agencies] need you. So whatever your interests are, whatever your passions are, whatever your concerns are, we need you." In order to address the objective, Junior Achievement has stepped up to create a pipeline of talent from our regional schools to federal government agencies through the Federal IT Job Shadow program.

Last year, Darren Ash, NRC CIO and CIO Council Workforce Committee co-chair, commented on the Federal IT Job shadow program saying, "Our staff at the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] enjoys participating in Job Shadow Day and fostering our outreach to local high schools, and we know from the feedback we gather that the events are beneficial for the students as well." Ash continued, "These students gain a tremendous appreciation of the diverse types of careers and opportunities in Federal IT, and we have brought some of these same students back for internships and summer co-op positions."

Department of Transportation CIO and CIO Council Workforce Committee co-chair, Richard McKinney, echoed the benefit to the government last year, stating, "All CIOs should spend time getting to know the next generation of the IT workforce. We learn as much from them as they do from us."

IT Job Shadow Day is one of many activities in which agencies can attract and recruit the next generation of IT talent to the Federal Government. IT Job Shadow Day can mark the beginning of ongoing relationships with the schools and visiting students, could lead to summer jobs, internships, and eventual full-time employment.