The Future of Oregon is Ours to Build (And Easier Than it Sounds)

The Future of Oregon is Ours to Build (And Easier Than it Sounds)

What do you want to be when you grow up? For most kids, their answer likely aligns with their immediate surroundings: teachers, doctors, police officers, grocery clerks, pop culture personalities, and parent professions. Who do kids see doing those jobs? What do they look like? Exposure to jobs and the people who do them directly inspires future career choices that may have otherwise gone unnoticed and unsupported. The tech industry needs workers who are not only skilled in what today’s jobs require, but also aware of what the industry will demand tomorrow. How can this be achieved? Help today’s students - of all backgrounds, talents, and perspectives - see tech for its varied, broad, and developing opportunities. TAO is partnering with Oregon Connections to enable employers and professionals to help every student find inspiration, role models, and a bright future. Oregon Connections is an online platform that connects industry professionals with students virtually, bringing real-world relevance and experience to classroom learning. Supported and used by regional teams across Oregon since 2015, and powered by the national Nepris platform, Oregon Connections makes volunteering with schools easy for time-strapped teachers and professionals with real-time conversations that offer kids the chance to explore careers and ideas outside their immediate networks. How did you get into tech? How did you learn the skills you needed for the work you do? Did you move from a different industry into tech? What was difficult, easy, or unexpected? What problems are you solving right now? As kids navigate choices and future pathways in the wide world outside their classroom, personal stories from those who have succeeded provide invaluable insights that only lived-experience can tell. Oregon Connections in shifting learning environments. Connecting virtually is not new to most at this point. Oregon Connections has been a staple for Oregon employers and teachers for years, while Nepris has been creating safe spaces for industry-classroom connections since 2013. The platform is a tremendous asset for teachers as they scramble for engaging, inspiring, real-world connections in shifting classroom settings, and continues to be a critical tool in connecting students with professionals as life returns to normal. One recent example: Engineers Week, an annual event that teachers and students count on is typically celebrated by students visiting companies for on-site tours and presentations. In 2021, Oregon Engineers Week took place via Oregon Connections. Employers across the state worked together to host virtual tours, panel discussions, and career pathway overviews, connecting live with 2,500+ students over 5 days. Craig Hudson, senior engineer at Garmin, adds, “The huge ‘future benefit’ is recorded sessions allow even more students to connect with tech happening in Oregon.” Oregon Connections is how local industry scales education outreach.Companies use Oregon Connections to:

  • Build future workforce pipelines and retain current employees - 80% of professionals want to work for a company with social responsibility goals
  • Improve employee morale - volunteerism correlates with happier and more productive employees
  • Develop employee communication, presentation, and leadership skills
  • Generate goodwill and brand recognition in their local community and across the state

Employees and industry professionals use Oregon Connections to:

  • Be a role model to inspire the next generation
  • Reach and directly impact students furthest from opportunity
  • Share their own stories of struggle, perseverance, and success to empower others
  • Hone communication and presentation skills
  • Maximize their impact by volunteering more often and in ways that align with their passions
  • Showcase personal hobbies, interests, and skills outside of their job

Oregon Connections takes the headache out of volunteerism by:

  • Providing a virtual platform that automatically matches employees & their skills with classes who are interested in their knowledge & experience
  • Offering multiple ways to engage, and giving volunteers the power to choose the topics they want to share
  • Saving time and money through virtual video chat connections with students across the state and beyond
  • Prepping volunteers and moderating live interactions with students to ensure a streamlined experience
  • Archiving session recordings so students can learn about an industry, company, or career on demand

Intrigued? Take a break with us to learn more this Thursday!Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us on Thursday, March 18 at 11am for “Coffee and Connections.” Learn about the opportunities available, and hear TAO’s Cara Turano share her own Oregon Connections experience.Register to Join Here: Email: support@oregonconnections.orgMaren Zieba is a learning advocate, communications strategist, and partnership builder for Oregon Connections and South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership, one of Oregon’s thirteen regional STEM Hubs. She actively engages the STEM Oregon Hub network to advance the programming opportunities available for students, teachers, and industry through broadening the reach of communications. Maren’s goal is for the great work going on in Oregon to be seen and supported. In her spare time, Maren grows her own leadership and communications skills in Toastmasters and has fun developing seasonal jams.

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