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This Traditionally Black College Created Its Personal Tech Intern Pipeline

Making an attempt to acquire an internship at a number one tech firm or start-up could be a miserable quest for a lot of school college students, requiring a sustained, semester-long effort — typically with little to point out for it however a slew of rejections.

Now Bowie State University, a traditionally Black college in Bowie, Md., has created its personal internship placement program. And it doesn’t require undergraduates to leap via customary Silicon Valley hoops, resembling spending numerous hours finding out for firm coding exams or taking high-pressure technical assessments whereas a tech firm interviewer appears on.

“To be trustworthy with you, it’s a brutal course of,” mentioned Rose Shumba, the chair of Bowie State’s laptop science division, referring to the internship software course of at many massive tech companies. She described attempting to buoy stressed-out college students as they ready for technical interviews that she thought didn’t assess their expertise or skilled potential. “We see issues very otherwise right here at Bowie.”

To widen alternatives for college kids, the pc science division arrange its personal internship placement program final yr in partnership with quite a few firms and authorities companies. This system goals to match college students straight with employers looking for interns. It additionally holds coaching classes for college kids on interview expertise and workshops on scorching matters like machine studying.

The Bowie strategy gives college students an alternative choice to the impersonal, mass-scale software system at many massive tech companies. That course of usually entails tens of hundreds of school college students submitting their résumés chilly to on-line firm portals, the place candidates are initially sorted and ranked by résumé-reading software program.

At Bowie State, taking part employers come ceaselessly to campus to get to know, mentor, interview and straight recruit college students for internships in a course of that’s extra intimate than the one-off info classes that tech firms typically prepare with college profession facilities. And the Bowie course of doesn’t usually contain high-stress technical exams. That has spared many college students, a few of whom have part-time jobs, from spending dozens of unpaid hours on making use of for Silicon Valley internship packages.

‌Based in 1865, Bowie State is a pc science powerhouse amongst ‌‌traditionally Black universities. The varsity is thought nationally for its experience in cybersecurity schooling. Final fall, the variety of Bowie undergraduates majoring in computing soared to 332, a 75 % soar from 2019.

However during the last a number of years just a few Bowie college students have made it previous the vetting course of at main tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle to acquire internships, Dr. Shumba mentioned.

The competitors might be stiff. Adobe, the maker of Photoshop, mentioned it usually hires about 600 interns from the greater than 100,000 candidates who apply for its summer time internship program in the US annually.

Final summer time, with the brand new program in place, 60 Bowie computing college students interned with firms like Deloitte, federal companies like NASA and native start-ups. Certainly one of them was Dejai Brown, now a senior, who’s thinking about cybersecurity.

Earlier than she began making use of for internships, Ms. Brown labored half time at Chick-fil-A. Final yr, after Dr. Shumba inspired her to use for a authorities safety clearance, Ms. Brown acquired an internship on the Marine Corps Forces Our on-line world Command. She additionally interned at Battelle, a nonprofit technology research giant.

“Recruiters at Battelle reached out to me, took me via the interview course of, they usually ended up bringing me on,” Ms. Brown, 21, mentioned. “That was rather a lot much less hectic than what it may have been with a coding interview.”

The Bowie State program addresses socioeconomic obstacles — like lack of technical work expertise or trade connections — that may hinder some college students from getting internships.

To assist youthful college students acquire related expertise, Dr. Shumba arrange computing analysis internships on campus. Final yr, she additionally took a gaggle of scholars on an all-expenses paid journey to the Grace Hopper Celebration in Florida, a significant annual convention for girls in tech. Six college students returned to campus with internship or job gives from Apple, Financial institution of America, Citibank and different firms.

Amongst them was Roxan Rockefeller, now a junior, who labored as a software program engineering intern final summer time at Tata Consultancy Companies, a tech firm. Then final fall on the convention, she attended an info session by Eli Lilly, the drug big. That led to an internship interview.

“I’ve a ardour for information, and I simply began speaking about how I need to discover as many areas as potential with my laptop science diploma,” Ms. Rockefeller, 21, mentioned. “The following day I acquired a name from one of many recruiters telling me on the cellphone that I acquired the internship.”

This yr, Adobe began its personal internship program with Bowie State, centered on cybersecurity. The internships are half of a bigger firm effort to assist put together extra Black and Latino college students for tech careers.

This summer time, a few dozen Bowie State college students will work as cybersecurity interns at Adobe. That may make the Bowie college students eligible for full-time job gives from Adobe after they graduate, similar to a whole bunch of different summer time interns on the firm.

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