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Brooklyn Public Library's T4 (Today's Teens, Tomorrow's Techies) Information Technology Internship

Brooklyn Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Kieron George, T4 Project Coordinator and Information Technology Director , k.george@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

It's well documented that the United States trails developed and some developing nations in education areas related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Moreover, statistically minority and women are underrepresented in STEM professions within the U.S.

Innovation

In an effort to help promote STEM education and careers among underrepresented groups, Brooklyn Public Library’s T4 Program and Information Technology Department created BPL’s T4 Information Technology Internship. Since 2008, cohorts from the T4 Program apply for a competitive four day IT internship. 8 interns are selected annually based on the merit of an application essay as well as their career and educational aspirations. Interns are given access and exposure into the work life, culture, and professional areas associated with Information Technology. For instance, teens are given the opportunity to shadow IT staff, attend IT managers’ meetings, work on IT related projects and present recommendations to IT managers. Last year IT interns researched and presented recommendations to improve library technology at BPL.

Progress

Upon completion of the IT internship, interns are asked to complete a brief survey assessing the impact of the internship as well as write a reflection essay about their experience. Results from the past two years suggest that the IT Internship is having a phenomenal impact on participants’ career, educational, and social development. For instance, all 8 of last year’s interns noted that the internship gave them a good sense of what skills they need to develop to become an IT professional. Moreover, 6 of 8 interns felt the internship made them more interested in the technology field. In fact, one young lady from last year’s internship, now a freshman at Barnard College, credits her internship experience with giving her the confidence and skills to apply to be an Academic Computing Expert (ACE) at her college library. Besides shaping interns’ views about technology careers, all interns felt confident about entering a professional work environment due to their internship experience. For instance, one intern reflecting upon his social and educational gains noted, “This experience greatly benefited my skill. My ability to speak in a professional manner and web coding has improved. Before this internship, I had adequate public speaking ability with no skill in web design. After the internship, I felt my professional speech improving and knew enough HTML coding to write a simple web page.” The young man quoted was recently accepted to Rochester Institute of Technology.