Amin Salaam is an AP Computer Science teacher at Albert Einstein High School in Montgomery County and reaches about 150 students each year. As part of his curriculum, he aims to make his students aware of careers at local companies and coach them on how to best prepare for a computer science career track.
This summer, Amin had the opportunity to be part of the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s Teacher Externship Program, where he worked at Leidos for four weeks learning about careers in technology. The focus of his externship was to meet with many of Leidos’ leadership to gain perspective and understanding of the company structure, culture and needs. He also worked closely with the company’s training program, CyberEDGE™ Academy, interviewing participants and working with Leidos personnel to create a white paper focused on the core values of Leidos, the use of predictive analytics to better predict CyberEDGE™ candidate success, and the CyberEDGE™ Academy’s curriculum’s harmony with Leidos’ goals of inclusion and success for all candidates.
“Mr. Salaam, as a phenomenal educational leader, shared invaluable insights with Leidos in areas of cultural impacts to training and education and helped shape training regimens to better meet Leidos CyberEDGE™ candidates within their cyber career journey,” said the Dean of CyberEDGE™ Academy at Leidos, James Beamon. “His discussions with dozens of Leidos senior leaders within the U.S. and Australia provided valuable knowledge and awareness of what Leidos was doing to support our current and future employees in areas including inclusion and diversity.”
“I found participation in the CyberEDGE™ Academy training very insightful into the IT industry, by seeing the training that Leidos gives some employees to improve their IT and cybersecurity skills,” said Amin.
It is this specific knowledge that Amin can take back to his classroom and share with his students. IT skills are crucial for this next generation of our workforce, who will have more opportunities in the growing tech field than any previous generation. However, during his time with Leidos’ leadership, Amin gleaned that IT abilities weren’t the only important skillset his students need to focus on.
“One lesson that I learned that will benefit my students is that communication is just as important as IT skills,” said Amin. “In this context, I am referring to communicating with your supervisor and team about what is going on with your project, anything the supervisor or team would need to know sooner rather than later, etc.”
Indeed, the ability to communicate well is essential to the success of professionals in IT, and across most all industries. In fact, organizations with connected employees show productivity increases of 20-25%, according to McKinsey Global Institute. When our high school teachers teach around this insight and promote strong communication and teamwork, Maryland businesses benefit.
Leidos sees their participation in the Maryland Chamber Foundation Teacher Externship Program with a long view, hoping the Maryland business community will come together to address workforce development challenges.
“As we continue to address the chronic shortage of cyber professionals serving DOD and DHS, the entire cyber community needs to work together to fill these critical gaps,” continued Beamon. “Our strong relationship with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, along with our higher education partnerships, will position Leidos and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to address this shortage and invest in building the cyber and technology-driven workforce of the future.”