I’m dusting off the ol’ blog for this one. Mrs. McPherson and I took sixteen students to Cerner’s Innovation Campus, which is their technology center. The goal was to generate excitement for technology centered careers and to get a realistic look at what the work environment of a tech career looks like.
We started with Brittni Kingston presenting to the group about Cerner’s “dev culture.”
The presentation had a retro gaming theme, which was perfect for high school students, as many in our group are gamers. She highlighted some of the ways that Cerner creates an exciting culture for software development including:
- Conferences and other continual learning experiences (Cerner’s DevCon looks like a lot of fun: Lego theme! One of our students asked whether it is open to the public. He was bummed to learn that it is not.)
- Code retreats: on campus with catered food; centered on programming and problem solving
- Hack nights: hardware hacking, circuit boards, app building; general tinkering
- Meetups for communication across a large campus
- Blogs: engineering.cerner.com
- Tech talks: youtube.com/CernerEng
Next, students divided into two groups for a question/answer session with Andy, a software architect, and Brandon, who develops Cerner’s Java application. They discussed various aspects of a job in software development: typical day, tasks, education needed, and skills needed.
Then we finished up with a tour of the campus, including the gym, work areas, cafe, meeting rooms, and showcase rooms. Students LOVED seeing the work areas with their developers cranking out code in jeans, on bean bags, in a stunning environment. WHITE BOARDS EVERYWHERE. Floor-to-ceiling whiteboards; white boards as scratch paper; even TABLES that are white boards. All filled with brainstorming, flow patterns, and code. Kind of makes me want to install whiteboards all over the library.
Liz, with whom I coordinated this visit, told students all about Cerner’s internship opportunities and a few students have already told me that they are planning on looking into applying in the future.
A number of the students were buzzing about the campus as we left, so I would call this visit a success in terms of our goals to generate excitement about tech careers!