Getting into the tech space is difficult, especially if you don’t have the right skin tone. One HBCU, Bowie State, has a cheat code for its students to achieve that goal.
A New York Times report highlights Bowie State and how it is helping Black computing students get their foot in the Silicon Valley door by bypassing its strict vetting process.
Bowie State University, located in Bowie, Maryland, has created an internship placement program that does not require the typical Silicon Vally dog and pony show undergraduates have to deal with, like enduring high-pressure technical assessments. At the same time, an interviewer looks on or hours of studying for a company coding test.
Rose Shumba, the chair of Bowie State’s computer science department, describes it as “a brutal process” when referring to the internship application process at large tech firms, adding, “We see things very differently here at Bowie.”
So How Does The Internship Placement Program Work?
Per the NYT’s piece, Bowie’s computer science department has its own internship placement program, which it set up last year in partnership with numerous companies and government agencies.
The program focuses on “matching students directly with employers seeking interns.” Students in the program also work on their interview skills in training sessions, while workshops will touch on topics like machine learning.
Bowie’s program gives its students an alternative to the massive, impersonal system that would see them throw in an application and hope to be chosen out of tens of thousands of college students submitting their resumes through a portal system that is typically sorted and ranked using resume reading software.
The companies and agencies part of Bowie’s program often come to the campus to meet the students, mentor them, interview and directly recruit them for internships making the process more intimate.
How Successful Is Bowie’s Program?
According to the New York Times, 60 Bowie computing students interned at federal agencies like NASA, companies like Deloitte, and local startups last summer.
The story highlights Dejai Brown, who worked at a Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant before applying for internships. After getting some encouragement from Dr. Shumba, she applied for security clearance and got an internship at the Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command.
Battelle, a nonprofit technology research company, also recruited Ms. Brown.
Head here to read more about Bowie State doing the lord’s work for Black computing students.
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