Randi Zuckerberg has learned a thing or two about making it in the tech world.
“I spent the last decade in Silicon Valley seeing firsthand how much this industry is absolutely exploding with opportunity,” said the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media (and sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg). “The industry is growing but yet the skills aren’t growing to keep up with it.”
The demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations is increasing at every education level and across every industry, according to a report by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
There are more than 500,000 computing job openings nationwide and fewer than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year, according to code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science.
The problem, Zuckerberg said, is that some job seekers are deterred from the field altogether by the rigorous tech skills required — particularly women, she added. (Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM occupations relative to their position in the labor market as a whole: Only 23 percent of workers in STEM are women, compared with 51 percent of workers in all occupations, according to the Georgetown center.)
“I spent a lot of time being the only women in the room,” Zuckerberg said, “so I have a personal drive and passion to make sure that this tech skills gap applies to women and girls in a meaningful way also.”
In terms of ultimately landing a high-paying tech job, computer science and engineering majors were the most successful, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ most recent annual survey of college students.
“I spent a lot of time being the only woman in the room, so I have a personal drive and passion to make sure that this tech skills gap applies to women and girls in a meaningful way also.”
What’s more, people within these occupations “are earning significantly more than those who are not,” the Georgetown report said. In fact, people with an undergraduate major in STEM make substantially more over their lifetimes than non-STEM majors — by about $595,000.
But even without an undergraduate degree in STEM, the increasing popularity of coding programs and boot camps makes it easier for anyone to get up to speed on the latest technology.
“It’s all about the continuing education,” Zuckerberg said, who is also a spokesperson for DeVry University. “Even if you are super tech savvy today and you have all the skills, in 10 years from now those skills will probably be completely outdated.”
“Stay hungry to learn more,” she said. “Take advantage of the continuing education and training programs that are out there.”
An independently audited jobs report on student outcomes at the Flatiron School, a coding boot camp based in New York, found that 98 percent of graduates were hired within the first four months of completing the program, earning an average of $74,447. (B.A. degree holders earn $54,123, on average, in their first job after graduation, according to the Georgetown center.)