From middle schoolers to recent grads, providing a helping hand that offers support, guidance and resources for a technology-fueled future is the mission of BYTE, an education initiative from CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community. The purpose of BYTE—which fittingly stands for Bringing Youth Tech Education—is to connect current leaders in the industry with students who are interested in technology.
Launched last year at the Technology Student Association’s (TSA) national conference, BYTE is an indispensable resource for every spoke on the wheel of tech education—it’s a hub of engaging information for students and teachers; a support toolkit for parents; and a resource for mentorships for tech professionals who can help usher in the next batch of innovators and industry leaders. And, BYTE is determined to make education in tech as seamless and integrative as reading and writing.
“The Future Leaders Community is all about bringing youth to tech and into tech spaces and careers,” said Heather Ptak, chair of the Future Leaders Executive Council and director, field marketing, at ConnectWise. “We created BYTE as a toolkit that tech professionals can use to help young people in their community really grow and showcase how awesome it is to have a tech career.”
Developed by CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community, the BYTE initiative is multipronged by design, and in addition to targeting industry professionals, includes resources for people like parents and teachers who can offer support and guidance along the way.
“It's definitely a multifaceted approach,” said Ptak. “Looking at the middle school age range, we can say, ‘Here’s this whole entire toolkit up for you,’ and that’s really helpful. For those in the high school to college range, we tie it into the mentorship and shadowing program and say, ‘Who is currently graduating that we can promote a career in technology to?’”
The biggest message, according to Ptak, is that tech is for everyone, and an approachable education that starts early will push the industry forward by providing exciting and rewarding career paths and opportunities. Last year, BYTE worked with TSA to bring the program to ChannelCon, CompTIA’s premier conference for tech leaders and companies. Students had the opportunity to shadow a professional, ask questions and see the behind-the-scenes of what a career in tech could be like.
“The ChannelCon experience is by far my favorite because [the students] were just mind-blown about being at ChannelCon and being able to see and speak to everybody. They got to pick the attendees’ brains about working in tech and the different areas and fields that you can go into. It was amazing.”
One of the most helpful features of BYTE is that the message, resources and purpose can apply across many ages and levels of tech skill and talent. BYTE resources are readily available for download, and include toolkits about how to become a mentor, resources for partnering with nonprofits and community organizations, and parent guides for supporting their child’s STEM education.
Ptak credits events like TSA and involved members in helping BYTE take off. “I have a passion for helping the younger generation know that there are lot of areas to go into. Most think that you have to code or build computers, but there are plenty of other career paths in tech.”
With a presence at this year’s TSA national conference in Washington DC, BYTE is proving that tech education is vital, worthwhile, and most importantly, accessible for students of all ages and interests. Professionals and students alike are encouraged to stop by the CompTIA booth at TSA to learn more about how to get involved with BYTE and the Future Leaders Community.