U.Va. helps teens improve tech
into the job market can be hard to do, but a new town/gown alliance
has given some teens a leg up.
Administrator Aron Teel (left) works step by step through
a computer problem with intern Dana Gelb.
summer the Charlottesville Albemarle School Business Alliance,
working with the IT Academy and the Charlottesville Albemarle
Technical Education Center, sponsored 21 internships in the information
technology field for area high school students to learn some jobs
from the ground up. The IT Academy was established by CATEC to
assist high school students training in the information technology
fields to make the transition from secondary to post-secondary
Three of the interns worked at U.Va.
Westcott, who worked for assistant professor Dorothy Vasquez-Levy
at the Curry School of Education, said her internship helped her
develop new skills and expand her work experience. Part of a team
working on a civil rights project Web site, Westcott scanned in
information and added audio. She has applied some of her new skills
to her own Web page.
Cohen worked at the Medical Center on medical automation research,
Web design and digital image projects. He also assisted in a summer
started out doing grunge work on a program with robots,
he said. Then I moved up to doing research they didnt
have time to do.
said one project involved printing bar codes on Petri dishes,
so he first researched bar codes and their applications.
said the researchers worked different hours, some late into the
night and there would be times when he worked independently.
was not really a normal business, he said. People
just left when their work was done. Sometimes the office was empty
and sometimes people would work all weekend.
said the internship beefed up his work skills. I learned
to listen to [a variety of] ideas, he said.
Gelb, who worked with Network Administrator Aron Teel in Madison
Hall, produced a computer animation video for an in-house demonstration
among his work projects.
has enhanced my problem-solving abilities, he said of his
internship. I have gained confidence because I have put
my skills to work.
and Westcott agreed that the internships boosted their self-confidence.
had to go up to people and talk to them, Cohen said. Im
not as shy as I used to be. Because I had to gain information
I was forced to be more social.
Teel said the program was a good experience for him.
exciting to watch somebody learn, he said. When you
are struggling through trying to solve a problem and you have
someone to talk to, even if they dont understand it, just
explaining it can open the whole problem up for solution.
who said he would be willing to take another intern in the future,
said it can also be helpful having someone there just questioning
internship at Medical Automation Research Center was a valuable
experience for both parties, Sarah Wood, robotics education
outreach coordinator, said. He gained important workplace
skills and knowledge about complex medical automation technology
while we benefited from his computer and design skills.
year was the maiden voyage of the internship program. Lucinda
Childs-White, director of staffing for human resources at the
University and a member of the CASBA advisory board, said U.Va.
had agreed to take one intern. But when some businesses had to
withdraw, the University agreed to take more interns, she said.
Departments didnt take the interns unless they were willing
to provide them with the support they needed, Childs-White said.
We didnt want to place the kids and have them bored.
a human resource specialist, Childs-White knows that information
technology jobs can be difficult to fill, and the internships
exposed the teens to potential job opportunities. She said it
also gives employers an opportunity to see what the students offer
and for the students to see what the workplace provides.
is a shortage of IT workers, so we need to grow our own,
hopes once these students graduate from college they will come
back to the community instead of looking for work elsewhere. By
building relationships with mentors, this years interns
can get recommendations and/or the mentors can connect students
with employers, she said.
were 50 students in the IT Academy this year and 84 students are
signed up for next year.
a recent luncheon honoring the students and their mentors, Chris
Root, who taught the students in classroom sessions on Wednesdays,
said the students were the best of the best. He said
CASBA was very important because of increasing demands being placed
on the schools.