Corey McCallan originally planned to become a teacher.
“That was my career path early on,” he said.
Though he ultimately pursued a different path, McCallan found opportunities to share his knowledge with students as an Agile project manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).
McCallan and many of his information services department coworkers volunteer through the AIM Institute’s Brain Exchange. AIM, a nonprofit, supports the local tech talent community.
The Brain Exchange offers classes for students ages 7 to 17, a code school for people making a career change and professional development opportunities, Erin Lasiter, AIM director of business development, said.
BCBSNE volunteers support the Brain Exchange’s project management workshop and Spook-Techular Open House, an annual Halloween-themed event for families.
McCallan has participated in both events and said he enjoyed speaking with students during the workshop.
“We did more of an Agile lesson and how to use it in technology,” McCallan said. “I’ve always felt that learning in and out of the classroom should be engaging and fun. AIM provides that opportunity for students.”
In addition to organizing volunteers, BCBSNE and other local companies assist AIM through financial support, which helps the nonprofit run its programs for free, Lasiter said.
“Most of the students we work with have barriers, whether it’s financial barriers or being a first-generation student,” Lasiter said. “Being able to offer programs at no charge removes those barriers. It helps students understand how technology fits into their life and how it can be an opportunity for them in the future.”
Attracting and retaining Nebraska’s tech talent is part of AIM’s mission.
“So many of the really bright technology people look to the coasts for work,” Lasiter said. “This is such a welcoming community, and we want to keep our tech talent here and grow it, so we can bring in new businesses and support the businesses we currently have.”
Glenn Bruneau, BCBSNE information services manager, said like many other cities, Omaha is forecasting a shortage of tech workers.
“We know that in time the numbers are going to get even tighter,” Bruneau said. “It’s important we continue to support the programs AIM puts in place and allow AIM to help develop future IT candidates for our workforce.”
For McCallan, supporting AIM also provides an opportunity to give back.
“It’s a fantastic connection for us because we have talented people who enjoy sharing their knowledge with the kids,” McCallan said. “When I come back to the office after volunteering, I know I’ve made a difference.”
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