iJAMM Camp: Developing IT-oriented Teenagers
August 20th, 2015
I just got back from the experimental iJAMM camp aimed at teaching teenagers various computer sciences. The four classes were Web Design, iOS App Development, Game Development, and Computer Animation. While I do work at an IT company, this was my first time when I had to deal directly with development instead of talking about it. And you know what? I feel more confident as ever that BrainBasket's goal of training 100K IT specialists by 2020 is a reachable goal.
Mykola Slobodian, Grossum CEO and founder, was one of the guest speakers for the camp. He shared his own journey into the IT sphere and what are the important ingredients for being successful in this career, stressing the importance of preliminary studies in other areas like physics and math.
"There was a time when I had to make an important decision in my life: do I continue with my science job, where I am comfortable, where I've already got a Ph.D., or do I pursue the passion of my life, IT development? It wasn't an easy decision to make because I was already married at the time and our son was just two years old. Yet, I decided that I cannot not follow IT and I haven't regretted the decision ever since."
"Besides, my degree in science helped me later in IT. Nowadays, just like speaking English ceases to count as speaking a foreign language because it is so common, simply knowing the programming language does not mean you'll get a job. What is valued more than technical skills is the ability to think critically and analyze the data you're provided," shared Mykola.
This iJAMM camp was an experiment. JAMM camps have been organized for four years in a row now, but they have been oriented at extroverted kids who wanted to get a chance to try show business. IT people, however, are usually perceived as introverts, so when planning this camp and the program, the organizers took it into account. Nonetheless, there were many teambuilding opportunities, quests, and games as well, so the kids were encouraged to build friendships within their teams as well as people from other spheres.
I was there as an interpreter for the iOS app development sphere as well as one of the counselors. Worried at first that I would not be able to understand Objective-C lingo, I soon realized several things that pleased me:
- Teenagers these days are incredibly tech-savvy and those who came to this camp already had a base knowledge of what they want.
- Most of our class knew English quite well and asked and answered questions in English (since our main teacher for iOS was Aaron Ash, the creator of famous Cydia tweak called Barrel.)
- Teens are highly motivated to learn the skills and value the mentorship opportunities.
- Even shy geeks and nerds know how to have fun when presented a chance :)
If you are a developer, how old were you when you started programming? What do you think should be done about IT education in schools?