Sadly, many of our elementary and middle school students in San Diego County do not have any exposure to the world of work in the classroom setting. Moreover, numerous studies indicate these students will perform jobs that don’t even exist yet. How can we expect our students to be ready to take on and create the jobs of the future if exposure opportunities are limited to a small portion of the student population?
The goal of the Career Discovery Experience program is to provide underserved elementary and middle school students with past, present, and future exposure to priority industry sectors in our region.
CFF currently offers a six week project-based learning experience on Cybersecurity, and we will be launching a new experience on the Blue Economy in the spring of 2020.
How it Works
The Career Discovery Cybersecurity Experience is composed of a six-week online curriculum designed to ignite an interest and curiosity in STEM education, specifically through the cybersecurity industry. The program occurs during normal school hours and is provided by the district’s teacher. CFF provides an intensive training with these educators ahead of the program to ensure a high-quality experience. The program includes the following components:
- Week One: Students are introduced to computer science principles, the architecture of online networks, and learn best practices for staying safe online.
- Week Two: Students focus on early information security practices through the lens of the USS Midway Museum, learning about coding, encryption, and the evolution of coding systems. Following their classroom instruction, students visit the ship and tour security stations with Museum Educators. CFF also offers instructional videos for students that are unable to visit the ship.
- Week Three: Students learn financial literacy, take a survey to identify their strengths and interests, and use the Journeys mapping technology to explore different career options, priority industries in San Diego, information about cybersecurity jobs, and the skills needed to succeed.
- Weeks Four and Five: Students experience the modern-day cybersecurity industry through hands-on digital forensics activities in the classroom with a cybersecurity professional, in addition to other virtual interactions with cybersecurity professionals and online simulations.
- Week Six: Students synthesize their learning through a cybersecurity project that they develop and present to a panel of cybersecurity industry professionals at the culminating event.
CFF’s Project Manager is on hand throughout the program to assist teachers as needed with their instruction, in addition to facilitating all of the site visits and industry interactions.
The program is largely free of charge to school districts, thanks to the generous support of our donors.
Need for Cybersecurity Exposure
San Diego is a global hub for cyber innovation. In fact, San Diego is home to over 7,300 cyber jobs and generates $1.9 billion in economic revenue for the region. The industry is expected to grow by 13 percent over the next few years. Unfortunately, this priority industry is facing a local talent shortfall. Many cyber professionals will tell you that their companies have countless job openings but cannot fill them with local talent because of a lack of skilled workers. We believe it is critical to expose students to this exciting and growing industry during the formative years of middle school in order to meet our region’s talent demands and better prepare students for college, career, and life.
Impact to Date
CFF launched the Career Discovery Cybersecurity Experience in the fall of the 2017-2018 school year, beginning with a pilot at two sites serving 30 students: the Community Day School in Sweetwater UHSD and Health Sciences High & Middle College in San Diego USD. The program was expanded in the spring of 2018 to serve 180 additional students at two other school districts: Bonsall USD and Encinitas USD. In the fall of 2018, San Diego USD and Encinitas USD continued to implement the program, in addition to CFF delivering the program in the after-school space to students from San Marcos USD and Escondido UHSD at the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos Teen Tech Center. In the fall of 2019, CFF expects to serve students in San Diego USD, Encinitas USD, Carlsbad USD, Chula Vista ESD, and more. Our goal is to serve 700 students this year.
Data has been collected from all participants through student pre-surveys and post-surveys, along with teacher surveys. The program results from the 2018 – 2019 school year indicated:
- 94% of student participants learned a lot about the cybersecurity industry
- 80% of student participants improved their essential skills, such as communication, creativity, teamwork, leadership, and professionalism
- 46% of student participants changed their college and career plans as a result of this program (60% of student participants said high school graduation was the end of their educational pursuits in the pre- survey)
- 87% of student participants gained greater clarity on the steps that they need to take to accomplish their college and career plan
- 91% of student participants had a positive experience with the program
The Blue Economy
Are you interested in bringing the Cybersecurity or Blue Economy experiences to your classroom? Are you a business partner that would like to give back, and donate time, talent, and treasure to these programs? If so, please contact James Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Special Thanks to Our Partners
The success of the Career Discovery Experience program would not be possible without the support of the following partners: