By Jay Collier, Project>Login Program Director, 2013-16
The demand for computing and IT professionals is growing in Maine, but too few students are discovering these careers and preparing for them to meet demand.
That is why the CEOs from seven of Maine’s largest IT-enabled businesses and Maine’s public university system worked together to launch Project>Login in 2013.
The program has grown, and today, our corporate sponsors are: WEX, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, IDEXX Laboratories, MaineHealth, Maine Medical Center, TD Bank, Unum, Tyler Technologies, and the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation. Our academic sponsors are the University of Maine System, Husson University, and Thomas College.
We know that the students who are most enthusiastic about digital technologies will follow their curiosity, through exploration, study, and preparation for these great Maine jobs … but they just don’t know where to find the resources to get there. That is why the foundation of our campaign is a pathway of online resources, from curiosity to career, all based on data from the US and Maine Departments of Labor and Education.
To get started, we compiled data and resources from My Skills My Future, My Next Move, and O*Net for each of the 22 computing and IT degree programs offered at our participating campuses. [Data table.]
We aligned each of those careers to the 6 personality/work styles documented over the past 40 years in the Holland Code system used by the DOL and school and career counselors nationwide — doers, thinkers, creators, helpers, persuaders, and organizers — so that interested students can more easily find the career groups matched to their own particular interests.
We link each of those careers to profiles of the campuses [sample] that offer relevant majors, based on Department of Education CIP codes. Those campus profiles include degree programs, academic support, campus life, financial assistance, and (soon) total expenses and net price calculators from the NCES College Navigator [sample] … all from a computing or IT student’s point of view.
The next step would be integration of employment outcomes to help students and families evaluate the return on investment of education pathways, and the new Maine Workforce Data Quality Initiative database is a great start. We can already see average first-year wages for 4 of the 22 degree programs we’re promoting, and we would like to add that information to our campus profiles in the future.
In the future, we could envision an application, available on a middle-school student’s MLTI device, or downloaded to a phone, that would ask personality and interest questions (from the Holland system), offer relevant, targeted videos from Maine professionals who love working in those careers, and provide pathways to explore the specific campuses, staff, and even faculty who could help them determine if a particular career and education might be right for them. This is currently an aspiration, but such a service could go a long way toward raising awareness of great Maine careers and the ways to get there.
Four sets of dashboards on Project>Login’s website provide entryways where students, and those who guide them, can explore professions, education, careers, and profiles of young professionals who studied, and work, in Maine.