Meet Erik the Intern
For the past 10-15 years a common complaint amongst educators, nonprofits that focus on education and students alike is that vocational instruction, shop classes, and art programs are increasingly being cut. Why? Schools need to focus their energy and limited resources on helping students pass standardized tests in order to secure state and federal monies.
The good news for students is that foundations, corporations, nonprofits and educators are starting to rebel against the system. Faced with a growing cadre of students who fail to graduate, or are not prepared for a career or college, a new generation of nonprofits are springing up. This new generation is helping schools provide rigorous and relevant instruction and are facilitating learning outside the traditional brick and mortar classroom, e.g. via career internships, dual enrollment opportunities, etc.
You may be wondering why the mention of the education system on a tech blog. Well, ECHO Technology Solutions is part of the growing community that is offering opportunities for students to learn outside of school. It is developing local talent and giving back to the community by recruiting interns from the San Francisco Mission neighborhood, schools and organizations.
Zach O’Claire, Lead Service Desk Engineer and manager of one such intern believes in giving young people, with an interest in technology, the opportunity to immerse themselves in ECHO culture. He sees the value in how summer internships give local teens and young adults a competitive edge and a firm foundation in the world of technology and IT support. And it’s not only the interns who benefit from the program. In addition to recently hiring one of its past interns, ECHO loves to share its expertise with its interns for as Zach said, giving back is just as important as working hard!
This summer, Erik Ross is interning for his third year at ECHO. In his first year, Erik built two computers. Last year he worked closely with the new service desk and learned how to troubleshoot for clients-everything from glitches in Microsoft exchange, to setting-up new computers to replace failing ones. This year he will continue with the service desk and hopes to help around the office in any way he can.
Erik said he continues to return to ECHO year-after-year because he enjoys learning from talented individuals in an office environment, which is quite different from the classroom. Furthermore, in addition to his ever expanding IT skills, Erik is gaining valuable interpersonal skills and confidence in his ability to interact with adults.
ECHO stands by its belief that hands-on experience and project-based learning takes students far beyond what they can learn in a traditional classroom. As Erik said, “ECHO has been an essential part of my growth as a person.”