A Career Day event hosted by Qualcomm and the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) at San Diego’s second-largest public high school helped raise awareness of STEM careers and educational pathways that can transport today’s students to challenging and lucrative professional futures.
The day-long event held late last month (Sept. 28) at Hoover High School showcasing STEM careers to Cardinal freshmen.
“Hoover is incredibly excited and honored to be partnering with Qualcomm for STEM Career Day,” said Charles De Freitas, Hoover’s associate principal.
Referring to Qualcomm as “one of the leading firms in STEM,” De Freitas added: “This is an amazing opportunity for our students to enhance their 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity in the workplace.”
Peter Callstrom, CEO of the Workforce Partnership, said SDWP actively promotes STEM-related career paths to many of the organizations and clients it serves. “STEM-related careers provide a variety of opportunities where many young adults will thrive,” Callstrom said.
“This event will support the incredible work taking place at Hoover to make sure that their students know that a STEM career path is within their reach—if that is the career path they are interested in pursuing,” Callstrom added.
STEM Careers on the Rise
With STEM-related careers expected to grow substantially over the next decade, according to event organizers, Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce.
“We want these students to envision a future for themselves in STEM”, says Natalie Taitano, manager, Corporate Responsibility at Qualcomm. “By engaging employees to share their career journey, we hope the students walk away with new role models, and the knowledge that they could be the next leaders of companies like Qualcomm.”
Hoover’s STEM Career Day featured presentations from Black and Hispanic STEM professionals. Also during the event, Qualcomm and SDWP representatives teamed to present detailed information to ninth-grade students about multifaceted career and educational opportunities in STEM occupations — science, engineering, technology and math.
During the event, students rotated through three curated sessions with Qualcomm employee volunteers. The sessions were designed to help increase awareness and interest in STEM pathways as part Qualcomm’s trademarked ‘Thinkabit Lab’ educational curriculum.
The students also participated in hands-on engineering activities that simulated real-life work in a STEM field.
Students were encouraged to explore their personal strengths, interests and values and learned how to apply them to careers in STEM. They also had the opportunity to engage in small group discussions with Qualcomm professionals who shared their career journeys and advice on how to succeed in the industry.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of STEM careers will increase by 10.8% between 2021 and 2031 — more than double the growth of non-STEM careers.
Yet many groups are still underrepresented in STEM fields. According to the Pew Research Center, Black workers make up 11% of all adults but only 9% of those employed in STEM occupations. Latinx workers make up 17% of total employment across all occupations in the U.S., but account for only 8% of STEM workers.
Hoover High School has 2,400 students, many who identify with populations that have been historically underrepresented in STEM careers.
In the 2020-2021 school year, school officials reported that 75% of Hoover High School students were Hispanic, and 7% of students were Black. Hoover High School is part of the San Diego Unified School District, California’s second-largest public school district.
San Diego Workforce
CEO: Peter Callstrom
HEADQUARTERS: Kearny Mesa
BUDGET: $40 million (annual)
NOTABLE: SDWP serves all job seekers as well as all employers to develop talent and upskilling and retraining those in the workforce, focusing in particular on underserved and underrepresented communities.