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SFUSD prepares students for careers in tech, hospitality

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The San Francisco Unified School District is partnering with Zynga for the third year to host Game Design Academy Career Day. (Courtesy photo)
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Ready, set, go! We hear this phrase from our children during recess, but adults in our schools are also talking about readiness — particularly, what we need to do to ensure our students are ready for life, work and studies beyond their secondary school years.

That’s why the San Francisco Unified School District and local businesses this week are helping students prepare for careers in two of San Francisco’s biggest industries: tech and hospitality.

Fun and Games

Today, 100 students from Balboa and Thurgood Marshall high schools will gather at Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters for the third annual Game Design Academy Career Day.

This immersive day of game industry exposure and exploration is part of the SFUSD’s and Zynga.org’s Game Design Academy program, which leverages students’ interest and excitement around games to teach the fundamentals of technology education and computer science.

Now in its third year, Zynga.org’s Game Design Academy program provides enhanced game design and computer science curriculum, exposure to tech careers and collaboration with game industry professionals.

At Game Design Academy Career Day, students will learn firsthand from Zynga game makers about the varied career opportunities available in gaming and tech — from engineering to art to product management to marketing. The learning isn’t limited to one day. Throughout the school year, Zynga employees visit high schools and work with students on all aspects of game creation, including designing, prototyping, pitching and developing a business plan.

Students love the program, and it’s not just fun and games! Our partnership with Zynga is preparing the next generation of tech industry professionals to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

At your service

On Thursday, more than 100 high school students in the SFUSD’s Academy of Hospitality, Tourism and Food Service will step into the real world of San Francisco’s hospitality industry as they explore career options in restaurants, hotels and other venues. 

Job Shadow Day provides participating students with firsthand experiences to help define their interests. Students from George Washington and Galileo high schools will learn about accounting, housekeeping, sales, reservations, the front desk and human resources. They will also participate in mock interviews.

Members of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the Hotel Council of San Francisco and the San Francisco Travel Association all contributed to making this the biggest job shadow day yet for the Hospitality, Tourism and Food Service Academy students. More than 26 different businesses are participating, including many of The City’s finest hotels and destination restaurants.

Expanding our reach

There are seven career-themed academies in the SFUSD’s high schools, including Finance, Engineering/Construction Trades, Law, Hospitality & Tourism, Health Services, Teaching and Information Technology.

We want to do more. Because of the great strides we are making in this area, the SFUSD was recently awarded more than $7 million from the State of California to be used over the course of three years to support the further development of high-quality career pathways featuring the same kind of real-world learning as Game Design Academy Career Day and the Hospitality, Tourism and Food Service Job Shadow Day.

In San Francisco, weeks like this, in which hundreds of students are learning side by side with hundreds of professionals, make me incredibly proud to be part of a city where adults collaborate to mentor, guide and support our children.

Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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