02/11/2013 01:28 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2013

IT Internships Provide Invaluable Opportunities to ITWorks Students

"A few years after dropping out of community college, working in mediocre jobs, I decided enough is enough. The only way to achieve in the working world is to be certified or have a degree."

Since graduating from ITWorks, Jarell is close to completing his Associate's Degree as a CIS major while working in the Information Technology department at a prestigious and historic social club in Philadelphia, The Union League. Jarell was hired full-time after successfully completing his internship and now assists the IT Director in supporting the employees and members at the club.

For the more than 100,000 young people in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed, workplace internships and other opportunities to gain job skills and experience are available to only a fraction of these young people.

ITWorks' 16-week training and internship program provides these students with an experience that will help them improve their income potential for life and become self-sufficient. A 5-week internship inside a corporation or nonprofit is the capstone to the ITWorks program and provides a critical resume builder to these emerging young adults.

"Being a part of (Tech Impact's) ITWorks gave me the ability to restructure my knowledge for technology. My internship is where I got the opportunity to put all my knowledge of technology tools to use. Now I am an IT technician, performing network admin work and other duties. I am also managing a public computer center and am a trainer as part of the city's initiative to close the digital divide. Whether we had some experience, had some knowledge, or knew nothing about technology, ITWorks supported us and gave us the resources that made it all possible." Luis is an ITWorks graduate who interned at Project H.O.M.E. and is now working for the Urban Affairs Coalition.

Over the past two years, students have interned at more than 20 different nonprofits in the Wilmington and Philadelphia areas, providing much needed technological assistance at a reasonable price. Setting up community labs, managing small networks and wireless access, and maintaining equipment and user accounts, the students were always eager for the opportunity to learn and implement new skills.

The ITWorks students have also had the opportunity to learn and intern inside more than a dozen for-profit organizations, including regional Fortune 500 companies. They practice not only their technical skills but their professional workplace skills, learned through the 100+ hours of soft skills training received during weekly "Friday sessions". These sessions are led by senior technology executives on Tech Impact's CIO Council and volunteers from regional corporations.

Vincent Borrelli, Director of Operations at Diamond Technologies, has worked with various ITWorks interns. He says, "Diamond Technologies, a 17 year old Information Technology Consulting and Services firm headquartered in Wilmington, DE, has had the pleasure of working with ITWorks over the past couple of years. ITWorks has provided us with well-trained technical people, which has enabled us to augment our internal team as project demands arise. The ITWorks people have always been reliable, courteous, and well prepared for the work required of them. ITWorks as an organization is doing a tremendous job with their mission of providing free IT training to at-risk young adults, providing them with a career path that otherwise would not exist for them, and at the same time, providing a reliable pipeline of skilled workers ready to enter the workforce. We here at Diamond wholeheartedly support ITWorks and their mission."

The internships provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their value, and some of the graduates have obtained permanent employment as a direct result of their internship. Several have been brought on as employees of Tech Impact, providing technology services to nonprofits across the country.

With classes starting in both Philadelphia and Wilmington in March 2013, 30+ ITWorks students will be ready and eager interns as the summer rolls in. If your nonprofit or for-profit organization is interested in hosting an ITWorks intern, please contact Grace Harpole, ITWorks Program Manager, at