By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 – Pentagon officials hosted the seventh annual Information Technology Job Shadow Day here today as part of outreach efforts to foster students’ interest in cyberspace opportunities.
More than 40 students from three local high schools participated in a Pentagon tour, led and sponsored by officials from the office of the Defense Department’s chief information officer, the Air Force and the Army, who provided an insider’s glimpse at IT professionals on the job.
“The most critical resource we have is the workforce,” said David L. DeVries, DOD deputy chief information officer. “So the intent is to attract the younger generation [and] show them what we do and excite them about going out for education in the world of IT and cyber, which is so much more critical today.”
Student tour activities ranged from visiting a network monitoring site and IT expo to interacting in personalized briefings covering social media, graphics and digital informationprotection.
DeVries said the federal CIO Consult Initiative, which inspired the first shadow day, has grown considerably as global commerce and communications rely more on information technology.
“Everything we do revolves around the exchange of information -- every facet, whether deploying to help a nation or [applying] a combat force some place, or even to run the daily business of transporting goods around the world,” DeVries said.
With several thousand new people joining the cyber workforce every year, DeVries emphasized the importance of keeping accessible and appealing the “fascinating world of IT and cyber.”
“Today’s high school crowd [was] born in the age of digital technology,” DeVries said. “They know how to communicate much more efficiently, … so it’s [also] an exciting time for the older folks to learn how to use the new technology in new and different ways.”
As digital-age denizens continue to populate the workforce, he added, DOD wants to showcase the many facets of the cyber realm through training and education.
“At the end of the day, [young people] have to feel excited about what they want to do in life,” DeVries said. “This is the chance for them to see a great agency … at the heart of this nation and how much we depend upon [information technology] and the cyber workforce, … and how they can become a valuable member within that.”