Today marks the 8th day of the NetHope Academy Boot Camp in Haiti. It’s really been an eye opener to see how absolutely dedicated the intern candidates are and the obstacles they work to overcome.
For those that don’t know the story, NetHope and the world’s largest humanitarian organizations are working together to provide internships for computer science grads (and near grads) in Haiti. It’s an age old story. How do you get that first job when just about every organization wants to hire someone with work experience? So NetHope and organizations like World Vision, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and others are opening their doors to provide meaningful six month work experience opportunities in their IT departments.
The program design has been led by Accenture, Microsoft and Cisco along with ESIH (the leading technical university in Haiti). Over 300 unemployed young Haitians applied online during the ten day application period. Through a series of skills assessments, interviews and references, the group was narrowed to the first “class” of 30 interns (with 5 alternates).
Conditions are still very bad in Haiti so we didn’t know what to expect that first day of Boot Camp. Registration started at 7:30am and EVERY one of the applicants was there on time, some having walked a mile or two to get to the training session. And EVERY day that first week, EVERY intern candidate was in class ready to learn at 8:00am. Amazing. Simply amazing. So many obstacles. Many of them still living in tents (or “transitional housing” as it’s called. All arrive on time, in clean clothes and eager to learn.
The first weeks of Boot Camp are focused on helping the interns become desktop support analysts. Here they learn technical and nontechnical skills leading up to the MCDST certification.
This training is followed by Cisco CCNA Discovery and telecommunications training. And then it’s off to their on-the-job work assignments for one of the 14 participating humanitarian organizations. Here they get paired up with an IT mentor that guides them through the six month internship, both working at the country office and field offices.
There are so many people to thank already.
Patrick Attie — the head of ESIH and our inspiration. His 5 story university was destroyed during the quake. Two teachers and 13 students died. But Patrick worked tirelessly to rebuild the school and we were honored to be part of the opening.
Marlene Sam — Our program coordintor in Haiti. She is the tough taskmaster that will keep the interns in line during their internship.
Lisa O'bradovich — Volunteer Program Manager from Accenture. She was in country for 3 months before contracting dengue fever. Fortunately she is getting her strength back and should be returning to work at Accenture shortly.
The IT Mentors — They are so excited to take these interns under their wings. Who hasn’t had an influential person in their career? These IT mentors are key parts of our program.
The Boot Camp Instructors … MCT’s Willio (from Haiti) and Marc (from Switzerland) … plus Juste and Sondja
Our Corporate Supporters — Ken Rosen and Lutz Ziob at Microsoft, Gary Coman and Amy Christen at Cisco, Dan Baker at Accenture
The NetHope Team including Lori Oviatt, Bill Brindley, Joe Simmons and all the rest.
What can you do to help? Think about giving to the NetHope Academy. You can learn more at http://www.nethope.org/academy. A little bit can make a big difference in the lives of these interns. All they need is a chance.
I have to say that this is absolutely awesome. I wish more of us Americans had such eager, fresh, untainted views of work and what it means to be skilled in something. Kudos to these organizations and those willing to go the extra mile, literally, to do something better for their families and themselves.