“People in the IT and corporate worlds should stop looking down on young people as if our point isn’t as important as theirs just because we’re young and lack the training,” says Selma Rosenbaum.
Linn Källström agrees and says that if Sweden is to get more highly skilled people, it has to appeal to the younger generation. “I think that the key to getting a lot of people into the IT world is to talk to the young. To fire their interest so that they see there’s a market for them. If companies don’t do this, no one else will either.”
Linn is 16 and in her last school year. Selma is a year older and in her first year in upper secondary. They don’t see their future selves living and working in a particular district or city. Or at least not only there.
They say that most people effectively have access to the whole world on the net, so why limit yourself ? No matter what our needs, almost, we can find it there in the form of people and community.
Selma and Linn have friends from the Netherlands and the USA, people they’ve got to know without ever having met them. To them, a community is neither digital nor physical. It mostly just is. And they take it for granted that people can connect with and understand each other and share interests regardless of where they are on the planet.
When they visited Code Summer Camp, a week-long technology camp for 7 to 17-year-olds, they had no interest at all in computers. It was one of their parents, a coder, who suggested they go along to check it out.
“Neither Selma nor I knew what awaited us,” says Linn. “I more just tagged along with Selma. Then we discovered the joy of creating. To code, do graphic design and develop games. The way they taught was also more fun than what we’re used to at school. There was a lot more freedom here and we could choose for ourselves what we wanted to do. And that gave the whole place a much more collective feel.”
Independence and getting to decide for yourself. Learning new things and growing. And getting to do it with others who like similar things.
Again, a bull’s-eye when it comes to what the research says about our motivators.
A bigger person
To Linn and Selma the ingredients of a good community are self-evident: an acceptance of novelty and of people unlike you. People with different ideas, views and traditions.
In the next breath they draw parallels to what you need to make your life function smoothly.
“I think it’s about always trying to be a bigger person. About trying to get a relationship, or a group or a team to work. Always trying. And not getting hung up on the trivial things that put you off collaborating,” says Selma.
Linn agrees and says that humanity as a race evolved through cooperation.
“We wouldn’t have come anywhere close to having what we’ve got today without cooperation. Sure, we can cope fairly well on our own these days, but to evolve we have to cooperate. No matter what our situation. To spread inspiration and knowledge and help each other.”
And it’s not long before they’ve broadened their perspective even more.
“There are so many conflicts and problems around the world that could have been resolved if people had only taken a deep breath and sat down to talk things over.” Selma picks up the thread: “Maybe I just want to do my bit to help make the world a slightly better place, one in which we talk instead of fight.”
Place is everything and nothing
In a way, place is irrelevant to Selma and Linn. The distances and relationships in their world are counted not in kilometers but in milliseconds.
At the same time, it was the physical place that enabled them to find their path in life and choose technical studies.
It’s people like them, people who see the whole and the common goal, that we want to keep and keep motivated. We – as a city, a region and a country. We need to keep inviting them in so that they develop a sense of community with like-minded people, both locally and nationally. Give them space and attention so they feel that they can contribute
– and that their opinions definitely mean something. The challenge is to make them stay – or at least return – here after having studied and roamed the world. Here, to a physical place somewhere in Sweden.