In Bulgaria, as in the rest of the EU and the world, nowadays there are two seemingly contradicting problems: youth unemployment and lack of qualified people for the industry, especially for high-tech segments such as IT. This phenomenon deserves a root cause analysis on its own, but some of the reasons are obvious. In our thinking, it is important to share with as many young people as possible that
- Good education opens most of the doors to good life
- Software Developer is one of the coolest professions on Earth
- You can have a great career in Bulgaria. As anywhere in the world.
Start with The Youngest
Programming can actually be as interesting to kids as a game. Especially programming robots to accomplish daring missions. We, at SAP Labs Bulgaria, decided to support high-school students to participate in FIRST LEGO League: a great international competition for programmable LEGO robots.
We advertised this opportunity at schools, formed teams, and volunteers from SAP Labs Bulgaria became devoted mentors. We learned the basics of robotics, we learned some programming and, most importantly, we learned to learn and to team up. The results were quick to see.
Why Study Math and English?
At school, probably the most critical challenge is to build on the natural curiosity kids have, unveil individual talents and develop the habit, skills and desire to continuously learn. With Millennials that question everything with “WHY?”, it is important to build intrinsic motivation to learning, or in other words, motivate why you have to study any given subject. Fact is, as a kid you start building your own knowledge and skills pyramid, with the elementary school subjects in its foundation, high-school in the middle bricks and university at the top. And how solid a pyramid you build for yourself determines how many doors you open to your future.
We partnered with NGOs, and volunteers from SAP Labs Bulgaria supported projects like “Teach for Bulgaria”, where we hosted visits of high-school students to our office and in a series of lectures and exercises we introduced them to our company, the IT industry, why it is cool to choose a profession in the IT field, and what it takes to become a software developer.
We mainly targeted schools from small Bulgarian towns where knowledge about opportunities is much scarcer. Besides inviting students to our office, our volunteers traveled around Bulgaria to evangelize about learning and opportunities in Bulgaria. The talks were equally interesting to the teachers and even the parents of the students 🙂
Our next ambition is organize and host a mini academy for high-school students at SAP Labs Bulgaria. This autumn we start with a group of 20 talented and highly motivated students. We will learn programming, tools and teamwork, and we will create amazing Cloud apps. Also, we are serious about diversity and having as many Women @ SAP as possible – in all roles and positions. Why is it that we have ~50% women of all freshmen in IT universities, and we do not end up with the same proportion of women as software engineers, architects and IT managers? One of our next initiatives is targeted exactly to attracting and developing girls in IT – stay tuned!