For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to host TechGirls – an international exchange program for girls from the Middle East and North Africa – at AT&T’s office in D.C. for a day of job-shadowing.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year. Getting to know these students and seeing their passion for technology is always inspiring. 

TechGirls focuses on hands-on skills development in fields such as programming, mobile application building, web design, and more for girls between ages 15 and 17. It’s an initiative of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by Legacy International. Following the three week program in the U.S., the TechGirls will return home and give a presentation to their schools and communities about the experiences and what they learned, and carry out a community-based project as part of transferring those skills back to their respective communities.

This week, Aria from Lebanon and Christy of Palestine joined me for a day at the office.

We began with a Telepresence briefing by our team at the AT&T Labs located in New Jersey. The girls participated in a virtual workshop on creating mobile apps, talked coding – Morse, Python and JavaScript, and got advice on colleges and the best programming classes from the AT&T Student Development Program interns.

Even at a young age, these girls understand that having a solid science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education will be critical to their future careers.

Next, we took a tour of AT&T’s Innovation Center. From robots, connected cars to mobile health stations and 3D printing, we experienced how technology is constantly evolving and being applied to improve our lives and societies. The TechGirls ended the day by spending some time with the women leaders in our office who encouraged the teens to continue to pursue their interests in science and technology.

One of the common themes throughout the day was how technology can impact every business and industry. Even at a young age, these girls understand that having a solid science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education will be critical to their future careers.

AT&T relies on a highly skilled workforce and we’re working to help ensure students like Aria and Christy are exposed to STEM skills. It’s a driving factor behind our $350 million Aspire program, which is AT&T’s signature education initiative aimed to help young people graduate from high school ready for college and career success.

Let’s keep encouraging and empowering our young girls to be creative and curious so they can lead the next generation of innovators. 

This post originally appeared on the Global Public Policy blog.

About the Author

Amy Alvarez

Executive Director, International External Affairs

Amy Alvarez is Executive Director, International External Affairs for AT&T. In this capacity, she advocates AT&T’s positions on international telecommunications issues to the U.S. Executive agencies and the Federal Communications Commission in support of AT&T’s global business and international wholesale business units. She also is responsible for coordinating AT&T’s policy positions before multilateral organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Organisation for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD) and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL).

Amy began her career as a congressional aide to U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey. She is based in Washington, DC.

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