'Learning more:' Northwestern Mutual hosts high school job shadow, teacher externship day

MILWAUKEE -- Sixty local high schoolers headed to Northwestern Mutual on Thursday, March 22 for a series of job shadowing events to introduce them to career opportunities in technology. These young minds are paving the way for the booming world of STEM.

"The earlier you get involved, the more foundation you'll have," said John Knecht, software engineering director, Northwestern Mutual.

Telepresence robots transported the teens to new locations.

"This is one of my favorite volunteering activities. Seeing the excitement on their face when they try out a new technology," said Knecht.

They also cracked the code, so to speak, with Kano Coding Kits.

"I like programming, engineering and learning more," said Karla Jimenez, sophomore at St. Joan Antida High School.

And while building a computer from scratch might sound intimidating to most of us -- these students jumped in headfirst.

"It means I can get experience, see what it's like and see if it's truly something I want to go into," said Spencer Grobner, sophomore, New Berlin Eisenhower High School.

Professionals in the field say now is the time to get plugged in. By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts one million open computing jobs in the U.S.

By the day's end, students were just as dialed in as the pros.

"It's an honor to be here," said Jimenez.

"Engineering, the science field, is more male dominant, and our school teaches us that us as girls, we can be anything," said Liliana Santibanez, sophomore, St. Joan Antida High School.

Connecting the dots between current interests and future careers in the field.

"I want to become an orthopaedeic surgeon," said Santibanez.

"An architectural engineer," said Jimenez.

"It's something I want to go into for a lifetime career," said Grobner.

Teachers also took part in the "Externship" -- learning new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom.