As technology moves from supporting organizations to driving critical business initiatives, employability skills—including interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and business savvy—continue to be in high demand for today’s tech workers. The Technology Student Association (TSA), an organization dedicated to teaching young people to lead in a technical world, understands this and is teaching high school and middle school students not only tech skills, but also the employability skills that are necessary to succeed in their future careers.
At last month’s TSA National Conference in Atlanta, CompTIA AITP got a firsthand look at how TSA is taking the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics beyond the classroom and giving students the chance to pursue academic challenges and interests. We also had the opportunity to talk to TSA members about the valuable lessons that will serve them beyond middle school and high school—whether they choose to pursue a technical career or not. An emphasis on leadership, effectively working on a team, and communication emerged as common themes from the students. In their own words, here’s what TSA members had to say about the essential employability skills they are learning through their involvement in this organization.
I’ve learned how to genuinely connect with people. That’s very important in college and in my career. As a TSA member, I’ve had to interact with adults starting in sixth grade. Running [for TSA office] at the state level, you’re having to speak in front of thousands of people. That’s not something a lot of middle and high school students get to do.
Simon, 18, Tennessee
A part of leadership is the ability to communicate and work on a team effectively. There are a bunch of TSA competitions where you work on teams and that’s a pretty important aspect of your future career.
Rishi, 17, Delaware
I’m state officer, and I think leadership skills are really going to help me in my future career. If you want to excel in your career you have to show that you can lead others.
Priya, 14, Delaware
TSA has really helped me learn how to talk to people. I used to be really, really shy, but even the pin exchange [during the TSA National Conference] has helped me open up and talk to people.
Madalyn, 15, Oregon
Between going to the state competitions and going to [the TSA National Conference], you meet a lot of new people. You have to learn how to communicate with a lot of different people because they may react differently to you than other people.
Charles, 17, Oregon
Since I mostly do a lot of leadership stuff, I've learned leadership skills and how to talk in front of groups of people. When you’re older you have to be able to lead people if you’re in charge of something.
Emma, 14, Delaware
TSA is about technology, but it helps you with more than that—confidence, friendship, skills you’ll need later in life. It teaches you how to work well with other people. You work in teams and groups and you have to communicate with other people.
Elise and Summer, 13, Delaware
I’ve learned teamwork in TSA. For most of the competitions, you work together with your chapter and your team, and even for individual competitions, you can still get help from your chapter. Tasks get done more easily when you work as a team than when you work by yourself.
Jayden, 13, Delaware
TSA requires a lot of hard work and time commitment. The biggest thing I’ve learned is managing my time.
Keerthana, 16, Virginia
TSA pushes you to work with team members because more than half the events are team based. You have to figure out what everyone is really good at and use it to your advantage. You have to learn how to work together, how to talk to people. Teamwork is very important. The technology field is very collaborative now. TSA teaches you how to work with anyone.
Yoshi, 17, Florida