Get Experience at Top Tech Companies as a Teenager News2america

When it comes to landing a job in the tech industry, 15-year-old Enrique Avina may have an edge on the competition. He spent the summer participating in a program for high schoolers at Facebook.

“You see all the tech companies on TV and on news stations, but it doesn’t really become real until you see it in person and live it,” he says. “That’s kind of what happened in my experience.”

The Facebook program, a partnership with nonprofit Foundation for a College Education, welcomes a small group of high schoolers living near the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters for six weeks and is geared toward students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Facebook is not the only big-name tech company with programs for teens – similar opportunities exist at Google and Microsoft. These programs may be something for teens who are eligible to think about for next summer. Applications are typically available each winter.

Ashley Copenhaver, 18, who participated in Google’s Computer Science Institute this summer, says the program increased her tech skills. “I didn’t really have much computer science background before this, so this kind of provided me with a crash course in a bunch of different programming languages.”

Juan Salazar, public policy manager at Facebook, says the company’s program allows students to see what the technology industry looks like and that there are jobs for people other than engineers.

This year, students were matched with a mentor and worked on a team at Facebook that may or may not have been technologically focused, like communications or finance, though all students participated in a coding class.

In the coding class, Avina worked on creating a mobile app that makes grocery shopping easier, says the rising Woodside High School junior. He was interested in coding before the program, but says the experience has fueled his career plans. He wants to be a software developer.

While the Facebook program is limited to students who live in the area, Salazar would recommend students nationwide to learn about the tech industry.

“The technology industry is really booming not only in Silicon Valley, here in California, but you are seeing it blossom in Boston, you are seeing it really come of age up in Seattle. Austin is another area,” he says.

In the meantime, parents can help teens learn about careers in computer science and in other areas of the tech industry using the following teacher recommendations.

• Learn about careers online: The Association for Computing Machinery’s careers website is particularly good for learning about different computer science-related degrees and what careers they lead to, said Alfred Thompson II, a computer science teacher at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, New Hampshire, via email.

• Seek local opportunities: Internships for high schoolers with big-name companies can be competitive, said Thompson. Students could look for opportunities with smaller, local enterprises.

But students could still participate in programs held by top companies, he said. Both Apple and Microsoft offer programs in their retail stores, for instance.

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