By Margaret King
Jennifer, a Junior at Clairemont High School in San Diego, currently is taking two Program Your Future courses – the year-long iOS Programming series and the semester-long Business Management class.
“Both of the classes were initially to explore career options,” she said. “Taking them has widened my perspective on my career options and my college options.”
Program Your Future is the result of a partnership between UC San Diego Extension, community members and industry experts. The program offers free courses that allow students in grades 9-11 to master high-demand skills in fields ranging from programming and mechanical engineering to photo and video editing.
Students who complete 1-year programs receive a UC San Diego Extension certificate. Those who finish the shorter courses get an award of completion.
Jennifer signed up for iOS Programming because she thought she might want to pursue a career in scientific research. Business Management interested her in part because it ties into a business class she is taking in high school.
The level of difficulty of the Program Your Future courses is “appropriate,” she said. “It’s not too easy. You’re still challenged, but it’s easy to understand if you actually apply yourself.”
She has been surprised by how much fun she has had in iOS Programming. “I’m not the best at math, and I thought that would be more of a challenge,” she said, “But the teacher explained it is more about understanding how to use functions in the code as opposed to being able to do really complex math.”
Eventually, students in the iOS class will undertake a project where they will use programming to address a real-world problem. For now, Jennifer, said, “We’re still building our app-making skills.”
“We just finished doing a tripeak (solitaire) card game with a lot of animations and codes,” she said. “I play online card games, but I didn’t realize how much coding went into them!”
The experience has inspired Jennifer to consider new possibilities. “The iOS class has made me think I would want to take more animation classes and also learn how to program actual robots,” she said.
The Business Management class has also brought both fun and inspiration. Students are encouraged to focus on businesses that they would actually like to own and run, Jennifer explained. “My friends and I did a café, we did a nonprofit for small-animal rescue and a business making clothing from recycled materials.”
The class “has opened my eyes a lot more to the world of the nonprofit,” she said. “I want to do a lot more research into careers in nonprofits in the biotech industry specifically.”
Jennifer is still considering what she wants to study in college, but her ideas are coming into focus, thanks in part to Program Your Future. And she has also picked up practical skills that will help her going forward.
In Business Management, “you have to determine what you as an employee bring to an employer,” she explained. “I think that will help me not just in the college application process, but also in employment applications and interviews.”