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Families Farmed in Silicon Valley

Malia Savella | msavella19@dtechhs.org | June 10, 2018
Photo by Amy Baggott

Oracle. Google. Facebook. Apple. These are some of the big-name companies that live in our backyards and have been omnipresent since most d.tech students were able to talk. However, the initial pioneers of such companies are no longer young and hip; they’re greying parents. We Silicon Valley-bred, Generation Z-ers are the first set of people to be raised by both the internet and the superstars who built its foundations. What is it like to grow up with mothers and fathers entrenched in the tech boom, and will their kids be following in their footsteps?

“He’s basically been working there my entire life,” explains d.tech junior Jessica Baggott, in reference to her father and his position at Google. As a machine learning specialist, Baggott’s father has been involved in projects as far back as Gmail. Cyrus Kanga, junior, echoes this experience: his father started working as a lead technical engineer at Oracle before Kanga was born.

Kanga was properly introduced to technology when he was nine years old. As a prerequisite to getting a laptop, his father told him he had to read the entire AP Computer Science textbook.“Basically after that, I sort of got more involved in a lot more technological stuff, and it grew my interest. And although it sucked [to read the entire AP book], and I don’t like programming, I like other aspects of technology,” says Kanga. Other parents took a gentler approach. Junior Lucy Goldberg’s father, a programmer at LocusLabs, tried to show her the wonders of software through the video game Minecraft. She recalls that she “wasn’t really into it, but it might be because he’s not the best teacher”.

Madison Shem, freshman and daughter of an information coordinator at Oracle, owes her interest in tech to having been raised in Silicon Valley. “It’s super cool to have [the tech boom] like, smack-dab in the middle of California-ish,” says Shem. “The fact that technology is always evolving and there’s so many changes that are coming along… I think it’s really cool”. However, Baggott doesn’t find the technology she’s surrounded by to be exciting. “I don’t know how to use Arduino, I don’t know how to use anything. I did take tech and I liked it, but part of it was that I liked getting validation from my dad… he’s always proud of me, but he’s especially proud when can see himself in me”, she says

Feelings of inadequacy run deep for the children of successful parents; this is especially true for the children of tech employees. Goldberg credits her and her younger brother’s stress to the fact that they knows they can’t be as gifted as their parents. “There’s a lot of pressure on the both of us, especially with our parents. My mom also used to work in tech”, she says. The root of this kind of anxiety may be, as Baggott puts it, “Growing up with a parent who is extremely successful”. She adds that it’s “hard because I know I’m gonna make less than him.”

Mothers and fathers woking in the technology industry produce children. Not strictly programmers, engineers, or web developers. Just children. While children of big-shot technology employees might have more STEM resources than their peers, following in their footsteps is not a guarantee. Instead, hopefully, these kids will find their own outlets to change the world through, just as their parents once did.

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