Did you make a conscious decision to become a professional trainer? Were you inspired by a high school teacher or college professor?

I asked myself those questions recently as I was preparing to talk to a group of high school freshmen. It was an exhilarating experience, and I encourage all of you to give a little bit back to your community by spending some time with kids and talking about the benefits of working in the IT training field.

Be proud and say it loud!
Recently, I was asked to join a panel of speakers for the ICANS (Integrated Career and Necessary Skills) program at a local high school. The other speakers that day included a disc jockey from a local radio station, a recruiter for an automobile manufacturing plant, and a C++ developer.

We had two sessions, each with over 100 freshmen in attendance. It was chaotic at times—but it was a lot of fun. When my turn came to speak, my opening line was, “I get paid to go to school.” That’s how I view working in information technology training—I’m constantly learning (and teaching) new things.

When asked which part of my job I like the most, my answer was: “Making a difference.” Whether you’re training someone to use an e-mail system or to design a Web page, you’re making a difference in people’s lives when you teach them something new.

Most of these ninth-graders had no idea there was such a career as “IT trainer.” One of the questions that they asked each speaker was, “What’s the future job outlook like in your field?”

That question was, of course, a no-brainer for me to answer. “It’s unlimited,” I told the kids. “In almost every profession you can think of, you’re expected to know or learn how to use a computer. That means that there will always be a demand for people who can explain technical topics in terms a non-technical person can understand.

I had two other important messages for the kids: Become a voracious reader and learn to type. The high school teachers love hearing that because it’s hard to get kids interested in reading.

Interestingly, the kids scoffed at the notion of learning to type—they think they’ll be able to talk to their computers soon, so why bother learning to type? I did my best to explain that Star Trek-quality voice recognition is a LONG way off, and if they’re smart, they’ll take every typing and computer class the school offers.

Do your part
What have you done recently to inspire a kid? Or an adult learner? I encourage you to contact your local schools or speakers’ bureau and volunteer to speak on career day. You’ll be doing the kids—and your profession—a big favor, and you’ll have a lot of fun to boot.
Each Tuesday, Jeff Davis tells it like he sees it from the trenches of the IT battlefield. And you can get his report from the frontlines delivered straight to your e-mail front door. Subscribe to Jeff’s View from Ground ZeroTechMail , and you’ll get a bonus of Jeff’s picks for the best Web stuff—exclusively for our TechMail subscribers. To respond to this article, please post a comment below or send Jeff a note.