NEW BEDFORD — Sam Price worked at City Hall for six weeks this summer, fixing computers, troubleshooting and updating systems across the city.
A New Bedford High School student in the recently launched IT Academy, 16-year-old Price said it was a unique internship opportunity, one that gave him a real hands-on feel about working an IT job to prepare him for a career.
“I got to see what the department does and went around the city helping people with IT issues and refurbishing computers,” he said.
The Academy of Information Technology prepares students for programming, database administration, web design and administration, digital networks, and other areas. It is one of three new nationally accredited academies launched at the high school this year.
The NAF or National Academy Foundation certification is evidence of college and career readiness and involves immersing students in academies of their interest and connecting them to the business world with paid internships. So it is a bonus of college applications, said Jane Jacobsen, academy coordinator at NBHS.
The expanding program put 24 students to work in paid internships this summer thanks to evolving partnerships with area businesses and the chamber of commerce. Students worked 20-hour weeks for six weeks at places like Bank 5, ArtWorks and City Hall.
“We’ve gotten such great feedback from our partners about our kids, it was impressive,” said Jacobsen who expects to double the number next year.
“We wanted to give them a work experience that follows their career goals,” she said.
The paid internship was a way of getting them motivated into taking it seriously and not having to make a choice between a paid and an unpaid job.
Maria Pina-Rocha, director of management information systems at City Hall, said Price was a very good fit. He did so well that he was given an award and will return to continue the good work this fall.
“The main thing with Sam was the skillset he came in with,” she said. “He was professional, helpful and we tried to put him to work where his interests are.”
He helped refurbish 42 out of 48 donated computers and helped create workshop manuals for the city, she said.
Price said he is definitely considering a career in IT and plans to go to UMass Dartmouth to study computer engineering.
His mother Tracy Price said it was a great program that kept him busy and made the summer fly by.
“He was recommended by his engineering teachers and I definitely think it helped him so he could see what it would be like to work in the field,” she said.
“I want to continue working with the MIS Department all year,” said Price who urges other students to explore the academies in their field of choice.
“I say, don’t be intimidated, go with the flow and see what opportunities you get.”
Follow Auditi Guha on Twitter @AuditiG_SCT