Missouri Education Office Recruits IT Staff from Second Life

"It's like going to a foreign country, you have to adapt to the local customs first before you can really make any inroads."

by / October 4, 2007

Illustration: GT's virtual Chad Vander Veen visits a news site on Second Life. 

Paul G. Wright is IT director for the Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education Office of Administration-ITSD. He chairs a committee that is taking on IT recruiting for the state. Along with more traditional methods of recruiting, the department is also constructing a Web site that will centralize state IT job postings and related information. So far so good, a state organization going about its business.

Then, said Wright, he read some stories about companies going to Second Life to conduct job fairs. Second Life (SL) is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents, according to the Web site. It opened in 2003 and now has about 10 million residents who live in a sort of video game, exchange dollars for the local currency to clothe their avatars, buy and sell virtual property, create music and art, etc.

So why did the state of Missouri go to SL? The demographics, said Wright. "I saw a number of people in SL were tech savvy and the age ranges from the mid-20s to early 30s. That was an age range we were interested in for our IT recruiting efforts. Dan [Ross, CIO] was very supportive about us sticking our toe in the water."

The state has been "in world" -- as residents call it -- for about a week, but has already begun to receive inquiries, said Wright. "We are hoping to do an in-world job fair in a few months and see how the response is for that. As far as I can tell we are one of, if not the, first state out there. I think a couple of states have their state libraries there but nothing like what we are doing. I know the feds have some nice areas in SL."

It's a new experience, said Wright. "You have to learn the 'culture' and how things work. It's like going to a foreign country, you have to adapt to the local customs first before you can really make any inroads."

Wright said it's too soon to make any judgments about how it will work. "I don't know if SL is the answer until we get some time in-world under our belts and have a go at a job fair and/or other activities. I think the potential is there. At last count there are about 9.5 million subscribers to SL. Where we are located a number of educational institutions have established sites. I can see from what is being done that education is looking seriously at SL to see how it can be used in K-20 education."

If you want to apply, the SL address is: EDUISLAND 3 (137,95,23).

Wayne Hanson

Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.

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