International Youth Day is celebrated each year on August 12 and aims to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society. In honor of this day, Blue Yonder associate Avni Jain shares her recent experience organizing a youth-focused event.

Each year, the City of Hamburg, Germany, hosts a Girls’ Day event where school-aged children can learn about technology careers and gain insight into the day-to-day professional life. It is similar to the Introduce a Girl to STEM/Engineering Day that takes place in the U.S.

Having learned about the event Blue Yonder hosted in 2022 at its Hamburg and Karlsruhe, Germany, offices, I really wanted to contribute to this year’s event.

The team who organized the 2022 event gave great feedback and, keeping that in mind, I had a few ideas – keep the program simple and interactive, and have enough breaks (with snacks!). Several Hamburg team members volunteered to assist me with the day’s activities.

On 27 April 2023, the Blue Yonder office in Hamburg hosted 10 girls as part of the Girls’ Day Event. We started the day with breakfast and showed the girls some small code snippets in Python. We had an “Exact Instruction Challenge” where the girls, in pairs, were given words that they had to draw and write the exact instructions. This was designed to be an ice breaker as well since each was from different age groups and different schools within Hamburg.

We then had a “Meet the Blue Yonder Hamburg Team” where we introduced ourselves and played two truths and a lie about our careers. We really wanted to show them our journey to where we are – and how everyone’s journey is unique. We also wanted to drive home the point that none of us decided to become a Data Scientist at age 10!

While waiting for lunch to arrive (which was slightly delayed as a result of other offices in the area hosting a Girls’ Day event!), the conversation quickly steered into “What can Machine Learning (ML) algorithms do anyway?” Can these algorithms predict who the next U.S. president will be? Predict the demand of chocolate milk at that store where I go to summer vacation with my parents? And then the most pertinent question, can these algorithms predict what job I’ll get? It was obvious that these questions were far more important to the girls than us explaining to them earlier that we use these algorithms to predict demand or optimize prices to create better supply chain systems. This turned into the most engaging part of the day!

Our team patiently answered all these questions. For example, with summer vacation data, these algorithms can predict the increased demand for chocolate milk due to tourism at certain stores. We had an engaging conversation that touched upon probability, statistics, ML algorithms, YouTube, milk, life, first job, and the next U.S. President. When lunch finally arrived, we talked about everyone’s upcoming summer vacation plans.

After the extended lunch break, there was a hands-on session with a dashboard where they could play around with demand predictions. This was followed by a role play activity where the girls and Blue Yonder associates divided into two teams – customers versus Blue Yonder sales. The objective of the Blue Yonder sales team was to sell the demand prediction software to the customer. This particular activity was quite successful, and the girls had extremely innovative sales ideas.

Despite the lunch hiccup, the day turned out to be a great learning experience for both the girls and me. Since my German is not very good I wanted to push myself to do something that I normally would not be comfortable doing given the language hurdle. But it was important to me that we put on this event to showcase technology careers to girls because we need to increase the number of women who view technology as a career choice. I shared my hurdle with the girls and hope they will be inspired to do things they’re passionate about even if there are some obvious challenges in the way.