Finding purpose through work-based learning experiences

Career readiness can mean a lot of things, from knowing how to craft a resume to acing an interview, but in today’s increasingly tech-driven world, being knowledgeable about coding and software development are of particular value. Coding experience, for example, can lead to careers as a computer engineer, systems analyst, and even video game designer.

Microsoft, one of PYD’s career readiness partners, recently hosted a virtual video game coding workshop for our youth with disabilities.  In the workshop, attendees learned how to code their own video game, known as “Eat the Donut,” in which they built out a mini-world where a character of their choosing was on a mission to eat a delicious dessert.

Learning about “sprites” (their digital characters) and setting instructions for them to follow in their games not only helped build practical skills, but also showcased just how many creative and fun paths exist for our youth with disabilities to build careers.

“Whether in-person or online, Microsoft consistently delivers quality Work-Based Learning Experiences that engage students through captivating subjects like building video games and creating side hustles,” Mehdi Raoufi, PYD Pre-ETS Career Readiness Program Specialist said. “What they really are teaching are valuable skills, from basic coding and sequencing, to effectively using Powerpoint to communicate your ideas.”

As the group learned in the workshop, video game design incorporates three main elements. First is the code itself: the set of instructions used to tell computers and digital programs what to do. Second, art comes into play. Software developers need to build unique, creative characters and wondrous worlds for them to live in. And finally, storytelling is what makes the game interesting and moves it along.

Through learning about each of these components, PYD along with Microsoft hope to demonstrate how many versatile career paths exist for youth with disabilities. Even in the profession of video game design, which can seem like it involves just “one” interest, there are so many possibilities for different kinds of minds.  Whether the interest is creative, analytical, or whimsical, a career in technology is attainable.

“These workshops, along with other Work-Based Learning Experiences, provide youth with the opportunity to learn about various careers and occasionally try out skills to further their career exploration,” Mehdi said.  Empowering youth to find a career with purpose furthers PYD’s mission to create a world where youth with disabilities reach their full potential.

This article was written by PYD volunteer Lizzy Wimbley.