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Tech space takes young beyond coding with summer employment
BLKTECHCLT provides mentoring, job placement
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018 8:48 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Redefining tech requires field access at an earlier age.

BLKTECHCLT placed 24 Charlotte-Mecklenburg high school students participating in the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program in summer jobs that demand comprehension in areas beyond coding.

“BLKTECHCLT is trying to redefine tech,” said Freda Hendley of BLKTECHCLT. “Most people think that just means coding and developing. Everybody on our team had internships early. Sherrell [Dorsey, founder and CEO of BLKTECHCLT] had a Microsoft internship in high school. It’s almost a necessity before the collegiate stage to experience the real work world, especially as it relates to tech.”

Said Dorsey in a statement: “We believe that achieving a talented tech workforce in our city includes investing in our most valuable resources – our youth. More important is that the city continue to invest in growing a high level technical talent pool whose skills are directly aligned with the growing needs of local employers.”

Students engage in mobile app development, individual mentorship and on-site experiences over the course of eight weeks—60 hours total. Some have been placed with nonprofits like EmpowHERment, which provides mentoring programs designed to empower young women, as well as at TM Studio, Ally Financial’s studio space at Camp North End, which sits next to BLKTECHCLT’s headquarters.

“We have a partnership with BLKTECHCLT,” said EmpowHERment director Tiffany Allen. “They reached out to us about hosting an intern for the summer. We have had interns in the past through the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, but this year, we worked with BLKTECHCLT to have a student who could address our immediate needs with updating our website. We have Nail Claros, a rising senior at Butler High School, who has been able to do all of that.”

Said Ally intern Quentin Struner, a senior at Ardrey Kell High School: “Even though I’m new, they’re making me feel like I’m a valuable member of their team. I’m working on the finishing touches of the website, and for the past week and a half, I’ve been working on the layout. It’s going to be a microsite for Ally. The TM Studio next door doesn’t have a website right now. It’s really fun, because it’s what I love to do. The days fly by.”
MYEP began in 1986. Students earn $8 per hour working 20 hours per week. While the program typically lasts eight weeks, some host employers maintain interns throughout the school year.

"We want to connect businesses to our youth and our schools,” Charlotte Youth Programs Manager Dawn Hill said. “It's about creating partnerships and opportunities – especially upward mobility partnerships and opportunities – for our youth.”

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