Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn more American high school students into well-paid techies–and even hire some of them to work at his social-media company.
Zuckerberg told students Thursday at Redwood City’s Sequoia High School that understanding technology and computers “is going to be really critical to having a lot of options and doing what you want.”
The Facebook founder said the jobs of the future will be very different from today’s jobs–and young people can use that to their advantage.
“If you start with the assumption that everything in the future is going to be different than it is now, then it’s not true that anyone else knows any more than you guys do about what’s going to work in the future,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook announced it is donating 50 laptops and creating a class to teach students how to create their own mobile apps for smartphones at Sequoia High, a short drive from Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.
Zuckerberg’s appearance is part of Facebook’s campaign to encourage more young people, especially girls, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math–so-called STEM fields.
“What we’re really trying to do is to create the same types of opportunities for the next Mark Zuckerberg,” said Tim Campos, Facebook’s chief information officer.
Silicon Valley companies have recently come under criticism for workforces that are mostly young, male, white and Asian.
Facebook hopes to attract young techies like Rosie Valencia, a Sequoia High junior who interned at Facebook this summer and interviewed Zuckerberg on stage Thursday.
“I really want more girls to be able to code because when I started none of my friends even knew what I was doing,” Valencia told the audience.
Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group, said Facebook and other tech firms are trying to expand the pipeline of local tech talent.
“The more they can find qualified, talented people, the more successful they’ll be in developing new products, new ideas and new approaches,” Wunderman said.