A San Diego based tech company partnered with the Sweetwater Union High School District to begin a paid internship program for local students interested in Information Technology related fields.
Students will have the opportunity to study under NFINIT’s San Diego Data Center to learn the necessary skills for cybersecurity, the cloud, network engineering and data science during a six week period.
Two former Sweetwater High School students, Arvie Cabal and John Paul Minimo, were selected as interns when the test program launched in June 2021. Both students are now attending San Diego State University. They gained exposure to a broad view of IT related career choices, and had the opportunity to select a focal point during the internship. These skills are focused on what a company requires for their core systems operating center and help services.
Cabal hopes to develop a “honeypot”, a controlled environment created to lure in cyber attacks as a part of a data center’s constant check for any security weaknesses. Minimo chose to build a server that allows NFINIT to perform special tests within their network.
Through the program, both interns learned how to manage a Network Operations Center (NOC) including the deployment of virtual servers, remote hands tasks, creation and resolution of customer trouble tickets, cable construction, fiber cabling and more.
“It’s at the heart of our promise to Sweetwater students that we’ll provide equitable access to opportunities that will help them succeed,” says Dr. Ana Maria Alvarez, Assistant Superintendent at Sweetwater Union High School District. “To that end, careers powering the digital economy are the future. We’ve seen throughout the pandemic the incredible relevance and necessity of internet connectivity and data security. By teaching Sweetwater students applicable, marketable skills using a world-class data center that happens to be right in their community, we’re empowering their future.”
Sweetwater High School is home to a computer science program that has grown to 65 courses throughout the district in 11 years since it’s launch. This was made possible by Sweetwater District's TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) for Computer Science program, Art Lopez and other district leaders in collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center and UC San Diego CREATE.
“By combining a computer science education and practical training in growing tech fields, we’re empowering underserved students with boundless opportunities,” Lopez said publicly. “When it comes to the computing and tech fields, far too few women and people of color are represented, and we’re working to change that. Sweetwater students have access to many internship opportunities, but this is the first of its kind in computer science, with a focus on underserved populations.”
Only 22 percent of participation in the Computer Science Advanced Placement (AP) exam in U.S. high schools is by young women; 13 percent is by students from marginalized racial and ethnic groups according to Code.org. Information technology jobs are expected to grow by 11% between 2019 and 2029, earning a median annual salary of $88,240, ComputerScience.org reports.
“Though we serve global clients at NFINIT, we’re very focused on giving back to our local community, and we’re in a unique position to do so,” says Denis Savage, Vice President of Operations for NFINIT, who is managing the program on NFINIT’s side along with Phil Kenney, CEO of NFINIT. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than by providing opportunities for Sweetwater students to boost their STEM education in a practical setting, learning skills that will empower themselves and their communities for years to come.”
The application process is scheduled to begin in April. At least two more interns will be welcomed by NFINIT in June 2022.