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Micro-Internships: A New Way to Get Kids Real World Experience

Micro-internships are an approach that CodeSpeak Labs created to take the best parts of an internship -- real world experience, collaboration with mentors, professional deliverables -- put into a manageable, week-long experience for busy students and corporate partners. We work with students in advance, so they're ready to take full advantage of the experience, and then facilitate an intensive immersion program where they become junior software engineers.

Below is a reflection from Angel Guardado, one of CodeSpeak Labs' instructional coaches, after our micro-internship at Illuminate Education, an education software company in Irvine, CA.

And special thanks to Jose Garcia, the awesome media teacher at Valley High School, who made the video.

CodeSpeak Labs had the amazing opportunity from the people at Illuminate Education to offer the students of Valley High School and Lighthouse Community Center a look into the life of software developers. This opportunity included a week-long web development project, the chance to work alongside actual developers, explore the offices of a software company, and even the ability to speak with Lane Rankin, the CEO of Illuminate Education.

At the start of the week the students definitely had their reservations. For many students this was their first time programming outside of a lesson that was planned for them. And most had never been in an office before. They felt unprepared for what was to come. Luckily for them, the staff at Illuminate Education were very friendly and made great mentors.

As I worked beside the students I saw them gain valuable experience and confidence in their skills. At the beginning of the week, the students could not have imagined doing half of the work that they had completed. The message that we aimed to get across to the groups was that they should not be afraid to push themselves towards goals that seem out of reach.

The majority of the students, just like me, come from low income communities that do not offer the same opportunities that others might. Growing up, I did not have the chance to learn about programming. It wasn’t until I got to college that I got to discover computer science as a major and potential career. I would have loved to know more about the topic before I took such a leap of faith hoping that I would fall into something that I liked. I strive to give these students the preparation that I lacked. For them to see that not only could they accomplish these great feats but also excel and want to learn more was an amazing feeling. It is their growth and sense of accomplishment that continuously remind me how much I love my job.

As the students continue through their high school and college careers I know that they will hold an interest in computer science. Some students in our group already hope to pursue a career in the tech field. And, I know for a fact that all of them have it instilled into their minds that knowing a bit of programming will place them at an advantage regardless of their career path.

- Angel

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