October 2011. In a prestigious program to help promising young information technology professionals advance their careers, Fonkoze has welcomed two interns on its IT staff.
Sherley Altidor and Jean Jackson Platel are both passionate about information technology. Jean has loved learning about computers since he first started using his cousin’s as a boy. Sherley thinks IT can help improve Haiti’s public sector by making information more accessible in the provinces.
Sherley and Jean participated in NetHope Academy’s boot camp and internship program that placed them for four to six months at Fonkoze. The internship will give them professional experience and the opportunity to work with an IT mentor, Fonkoze’s chief information officer, Francis Ollivier. The program aims to improve Haiti’s IT capacity by offering training and hands-on experience in the field to some of the country’s brightest computer science graduates.
NetHope launched its first class of interns last year, just six months after the Port-au-Prince earthquake, in a first-of-its-kind program in Haiti designed to help recent IT graduates gain the professional experience they need to find full-time jobs. NetHope realized the need for such a program because aid organizations working on earthquake recovery couldn’t find experienced local IT professionals, so they brought in expatriates from abroad, an expensive way to staff that failed to provide Haitians with jobs.
The NetHope Academy’s two-week boot camp works on improving participants IT skills as well as their professionalism on the job. This fall, Sherley and Jean participated in the second class in the program. Their instructor talked to them about the importance of handling work conflicts with tact, how to communicate well with colleagues, and how to manage their time effectively.
Since they started their internship at Fonkoze about three weeks ago, Sherley and Jean said the internship is going well. “It’s not very easy,” Jean said, but they’re learning a lot, especially from Francis. “Ollivier gives us the opportunity to learn, to inspire us each day. Each day he gives us tasks to do. He’s a very good mentor.”
Sherley, who has an 11-year-old daughter, said she hopes to be hired on at Fonkoze at the end of the internship. She said that IT can help improve the accessibility of government services in Haiti, such as looking up tax information to apply for a passport, which can currently only be done with a trip to Port-au-Prince.
“I think it’s very important to introduce IT into these enterprises,” she said.