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Go back in time for a moment: Do you remember when you were in school, say, as a 9th grader? You were probably thinking about who you’d like to be in the future, what high school would be like, what degree to pursue in the coming years, or what summer job to take… And it wasn’t until then that you understood why studying calculus or grammar made sense. It wasn’t about the grades. It was about the doors applying calculus and grammar could open for you. And look where you are today! Lucky you!

Now imagine you are a 9th grader again, only this time you will not be getting your first work experience any time soon, or you will not be pursuing high school. Where would that leave you today?

There are numerous kids that would appreciate you showing them how you got to where you are, and how you became and stayed motivated, educated, experienced and successful.

Do you want to do some good? Here’s how:

Photography: Richard McClure, Tom Good

1. Start with listening and networking. There are plenty of people in your community that will gladly share stats and facts with you. Through a couple of personal contacts, we connected with Worksystems, Inc. and obtained some shocking information: over the past 10 years the summer youth employment rate has dropped from 45% to 26% across Multnomah County, where Tripwire headquarters are located.  Worksystems, Inc. offers a couple of incredible programs aimed at exposing youth to what software industry leaders experience and need. This provided a great forum for our team to contribute.

2. Roll up your sleeves. Some planning and organizing is needed and the organization you are partnering with will be very helpful. Tripwire chose the program “Summer Youth Connect: Ninth Grade Counts” which is geared towards exposing students to potential future careers they may otherwise not have access to. To get involved we hosted two diverse groups of 15-20 students in our office this summer, prior to their entry into high school.

3. Get others involved. You’d be amazed with all the interest. I was really moved to learn that several of our employees relate to the 9th Graders’ experience. Some of our employees are the only members of their family with higher education. Some of them found their way into these types of programs during high school and are currently successful sales, engineering or legal experts at Tripwire. You would have never guessed it, when you ask them to write code, fix bugs, review legal agreements or help you with an excel spreadsheet (because they dream in excel!). They are fast, they are smart, they have amazing backgrounds and educations. They’ve worked hard to be at Tripwire and they are ready to help.

4. Adrenaline rush! A couple of brainstorming sessions later, once everything is planned out, you are ready for the big day. We had two schools visit us this July: Madison High School and El Programa Hispano – Puentes Gresham for over 2 hours of fun, including an industry overview and Q&A session, a hands-on activity in our lab, a Tripwire tour (the kids favorite: our Customer Service team surprising them with dart throwing, just when they thought work can get boring!), speed dating style informational interviews with our employees, sharing their personal stories of how they got to where they are today, and a delicious lunch. You’ll be surprised how quiet and shy a group of students can start at the beginning of the day, and how lively and energized they can leave your office. A girl shouting “I will be your manager one day” is great to hear! We planted a seed and that’s sensational. Doesn’t it just feel great?

Try it. Doing good feels great. Especially when you have fun with it!