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Coding is not just for Guys and Geeks

About the Author: Ann Mei Chang serves as the Senior Advisor for Women and Technology for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

As a twelve year old girl, I came across the Space Invaders video arcade game and was mesmerized by the relentless thump-thump of the advancing aliens, the satisfying sound effects, and the addictive simplicity of the game play. Soon thereafter, I convinced my parents to buy my first computer, an Atari 400 with its awkward membrane keypad, and became entranced by the potential of building my own interactive experiences. I set out to teach myself the BASIC programming language and learned how to make pixels move around the screen. While I never developed a full-fledged video game, before I finished high school I went on to write a grading application for teachers at school, build a voice command interface demo at the local Army post, and teach at a computer summer camp.

After completing a Computer Science degree at Stanford University, I went on to work as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I found myself coding up algorithms and routines for this or that function within much bigger projects. The analytical puzzles kept me challenged, but it was less than fully satisfying. As part of a bigger team, I missed designing how the product would work, interacting with real users, and weighing which features were most important. I became drawn to management positions that would give me this broader purview, solving real problems and designing complete solutions. I believe this is key to engaging more girls and women (as well as boys and men) in technology — make the work tangible and relevant.

Many girls and women who show an initial interest and aptitude for computer science find narrow coding tasks to be isolating and unfulfilling. Starting around junior high, girls start opting out of the field and continue to opt out through high school, college, graduate school, and throughout their professional careers. Ominously, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, the percentage of computer science degrees awarded to women in the U.S. has declined from over 37% in 1984 to 18% in 2010. And, at more senior levels the representation of women diminishes to 11% of corporate officer positions at Fortune 500 technology companies, 4% of senior management positions in technical/R&D departments in Silicon Valley companies, and only 8% of leaders of venture-backed start-ups.

This disparity not only undermines opportunities for women, but also exacerbates an economic imbalance as computing related jobs are growing at twice the rate of other jobs. In the U.S., the Department of Labor estimates that there will be more than 1.4 million new computing related jobs by 2018, and that half of those will go unfilled if current trends continue. The under-representation of women in computing fields is also a significant factor in women’s lower income levels, as the World Bank has found that the wage gap between men and women is impacted more by the lower-paying job sectors women pursue than wage differences between similar jobs.

Early exposure to technology, curricula oriented around tangible problems rather than abstract concepts, visible role models, and peer support through girls’ camps or clubs have all been shown to improve the retention of girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) studies. Harvey Mudd College found that when they redesigned their mandatory introduction to computer science class to use tools that enabled students to write interesting and useful programs quickly, offered students the opportunity to attend a conference for women in computing, and provided hands-on research experiences, they more than doubled the percentage of women choosing to major in computer science.

Certainly, there are innate challenges for women working in the still largely male-dominated software industry, and both overt and covert discrimination exist. At the same time, structuring both academic curricula and industry projects to embrace building complete solutions that meet real needs can make software development more fulfilling for women… and for men. It might even result in better designed and more usable products for us all.


Nyamata & RR Girls United

NetHope Academy Inspires Young Women in Rwanda to Pursue IT Careers

Women of NetHope Academy Rwanda and Richards Rwanda encourage girls from the rural town of Nyamata to pursue careers in information technology.

KIGALI, Rwanda (August 2012) – By Kevine Bajeneza – NetHope Academy Rwanda

Nyamata & RR Girls United

While many young professionals in Rwanda develop basic technical skills in school that are necessary for a career in information technology, other elements of their education and professional repertoire often are lacking. NetHope Academy Rwanda addresses this deficit through a six-month intensive education and training program focused on the most relevant and current IT skills. As Program Director of NetHope Academy Rwanda, I have enjoyed working with many of the young graduates leading the way for IT development in the nation. The field of information technology has traditionally consisted of men in Rwanda. As with all of our NetHope Academies around the world, NetHope Academy Rwanda gives preference for admission to individuals of underserved populations, including women, as a means of introducing more young women into the IT workforce. This preference created a unique quality of NetHope Academy Rwanda, because two-thirds of our interns are young women. Providing training to this larger group helps create a foundation of young women with essential IT and professional development skills, enabling them to advance personally and professionally in their communities. This development empowers women to play an integral role in shaping Rwanda’s future.

Inspiring women to pursue careers in IT is a top priority of the NetHope Academy mission. To help encourage this pursuit, NetHope Academy Rwanda collaborated with Richards Rwanda in August 2012, and arranged a networking assembly for girls in the small rural town of Nyamata. Richards Rwanda, a US-based NGO devoted to supporting Rwandan girls’ education, helps provide financial support for schooling to low-income girls in Nyamata. Their end goal is to enhance girls’ ability to earn income and become leaders in their community as a result of completing their education. In 2007, an 11-year-old Seattle girl founded Richards Rwanda after learning about the atrocities of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed the lives of over half a million individuals. Since its inception, Richards Rwanda has not only raised tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds, but also has established student chapters across the US and Rwanda. Providing a networking workshop was yet another method for Richards to promote their mission of supporting Rwandan women’s education, and NetHope Academy’s way of advancing our commitment to IT development in Africa.

The goal of the workshop was to show the girls in Nyamata that young women of Rwanda can be and are forces in the field of IT, and that a career in technology is a real possibility for them. One girl from Nyamata who attended the assembly was Grace. Her reported experience of the workshop reflects the desire and drive of many young girls interested in pursing a career in technology.

“It was my pleasure to attend the women IT-networking workshop at Nethope Academy, because I learnt a lot in which I would like to share! As we had different ladies who shared with us their experiences I was inspired by Ms. Kevine’s speech where she included her personal life as a young lady! But mostly I really liked the way she did sciences as specialization, that wasn’t easy by then especially girls. I realized how girls could make a difference by showing that they can, therefore I learnt that I also have to let my candle lit for a better future and no one should stop me from achieving my goals. I will only let the sky be my limit! In addition to that there was another lady who talked about self confidence, reliance and believing in your self as young lady this was really inspiring because she told us not minding about our background but only focusing on our future! I learnt that I should focus on my studies and not misusing the chance I have got, especially being supported by Richards Rwanda. As Nyamata girls we really appreciate that workshop we have attended just because it opened up our eyes to the outside world. It was really awesome to listen to those ladies who are like that because they did their level best to become who they are now. Therefore we would like to suggest more workshop with those ladies because it improves our personal standards especially experiences because I believe that experience is the best teacher to us.”

Presentation at WorkshopMany girls reiterate feedback like that of Grace across Rwanda. Their determination to “let the sky be their limit” reveals a great opportunity for Rwanda and women of the country. Collaborations such as this, provide hope to girls and young woman across the nation to gain IT knowledge to help themselves, their families, and the community. This is the cornerstone of NetHope Academy’s goal of building capacity and providing solutions to help solve recurring problems in developing nations. The success of this networking meeting is an inspiring testament to the desire of women in Rwanda to pursue IT careers as a vehicle for creating a better future.

Throughout my experience with NetHope Academy Rwanda, I have learned so much working with my NetHope colleagues Lisa Obradovich and Opokua Oduro. The NetHope Academy Program gives Rwandan girls that enjoy math and sciences some very clear ideas about their future as IT professionals.


Kevine Bajeneza is Program Director of NetHope Academy Rwanda. Bajeneza has served as Senior Project Manager at Rwanda Development Board and ICT Specialist and Trainer and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Bajeneza holds a Masters of Science in Communication Management.


NetHope Academy Rwanda is sponsored by the Rwanda Development Board, Accenture, Cisco and Microsoft.

NetHope Academy Rwanda is currently accepting applications for the upcoming cycle. If interested in applying, please visit NetHope Academy Rwanda Homepage.

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October 3, 2012 NetHope Women’s TechConnect Launches at Grace Hopper Celebration


Anita Borg Institute’s annual Grace Hopper Celebration in Baltimore was the site for the global launch of NetHope Women’s Tech Connect today. Lynann Bradbury, NetHope Global Program Manager, announced the Women’s Tech Connect Program which is being has received initial funding from Accenture’s US Citizenship Group. “Women’s Tech Connect supports women in the developing world that are working as IT Professionals or one day hope to enter the field. Our target audience wrestles with many of the same work/life balance and upward mobility issues we see all over the world. But they also have their own set of unique challenges. We are building the first ever virtual mentoring network to support them. Accenture’s Alyssa Rothermel said “At Accenture, we focus our CSR programs in the area of “Skills to Succeed”. NetHope’s Women’s Tech Connect program gives our employees the opportunity to engage with women just like them in the developing world and help support them in very tangible ways.”


RwandaInterns

NetHope Academy Rwanda Graduates Receive Full-Time Job Offers

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Three recent graduates of NetHope Academy receive full-time job offers from top companies in Rwanda

KIGALI, RWANDA July 25, 2012 – In March 2012, NetHope expanded its successful NetHope Academy program to Rwanda. NetHope Academy is a six-month program that trains interns through both intensive classroom instruction and on-the-job IT skill building. This combination produces highly competitive candidates for private sector employment.

NetHope Academy gives preference to underserved groups, including young women, in an effort to increase women’s presence in the IT sector. NetHope Rwanda had the unique privilege of training 18 women in its first class.  Three of these women, Mireille Rugwizangoga, Babra Dusenge, and Peruth Mukanshimiye have already received full-time job offers from leaders in Rwanda’s business world.

Mireille Rugwizangoga

Mireille Rugwizangoga currently resides in Kigali, Rwanda with her parents and four brothers.  Throughout her childhood, her parents always encouraged her to pursue education.  Mireille’s parents both completed college, despite the horrific events of the 1994 Genocide; something Mireille saw as a tremendous challenge for them, but also an inspiring example.  While in primary school, Mireille enjoyed math and other concrete sciences.  She was always interested in technology, but felt it was known as a “boy’s career”.  However, once she reached university, she found she was able to study the IT field despite the gender stereotype.

Mireille attended the National University of Rwanda, where she received her degree in Computer Science and Systems.  She was also president of the Women Students’ Association.  While she enjoyed her classes, Mireille felt that they were not applicable to everyday IT tasks.  She wanted training that would provide her with current and hands-on IT experience that would prepare her for her first job.  While browsing Facebook one day, Mireille saw a posting for the NetHope Academy program on the University’s class wall.  After learning more about the program, she felt she would be able to gain the practical experience she was hoping would augment her education.

After reviewing numerous applications of highly promising candidates, Mireille was granted acceptance into the Academy’s first class in Rwanda.  Mireille states that her favorite part of the NetHope Academy classroom experience was the Microsoft courses, the IT presentations, and the learning style, which included real-life workplace simulations.  Upon classroom completion, Mireille was placed in her internship with the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC).  Here she provided IT support, network troubleshooting, and website maintenance.  She also assisted with network installation when RBC relocated to a new building site.

As a result of her work, Mireille received a full-time job offer from Access Bank Rwanda.  She now performs systems backup, provides IT support, monitors e-banking products, and executes end-of-day reporting.  Mireille sees her new job as challenging, but rewarding.  She says, “What I enjoy about it is that I was not imagining me doing things that the whole Bank is depending on.  It is a very huge responsibility and it makes me feel confident.”

Mireille wants future Academy interns to recognize that “NHA is one of the rare programs in Rwanda and in the World that helps young graduates to feel ready to start their careers, it is not an everyday opportunity to find such chances.”  In the future, Mireille hopes to specialize as a database program engineer.

Mireille would like to thank God, her family, her closest friends, and everyone at Nethope Academy, along with its lecturer team Peter Maina, Anatole Gahongayire and Kevine Bajeneza (NHA Rwanda Program Director) who always cares about the progress of the interns.

Babra Dusenge

Babra Dusenge was raised in Kigali, Rwanda and is the only daughter among eight brothers in her large family.  Babra’s long time interest in computer science and the IT field influenced her decision to attend the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology where she was trained in electronics and telecommunication engineering.  Upon graduation, Babra began working as a call center agent at Rwanda’s largest mobile provider, MTN.

While working at MTN, Babra desired to expand her knowledge of technology and build upon her education.  Her friend told her about NetHope Academy and its mission to equip new graduates with practical IT experience.  After a highly selective application process, she was chosen to join the Academy’s first class.  Babra describes herself as someone who never gives up, and during her time at the Academy, she never did.  Her dedication to learning and developing her technical expertise while in the classroom landed her an internship at the Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC) in their network operations center.  While at BSC, she was able to apply the technical knowledge she gained while in school and the Academy classroom, and develop it into real-world expertise.

As a result of her hard work at BSC, she quickly received a full-time job offer from her prior employer MTN to work in their network operations center.  She now does site maintenance and troubleshooting, which she reports she “enjoys very much” and “is doing different things [she] learned while at the NetHope Academy.”  In the future, Babra hopes to become a professional telecommunication engineer.

Barbra would like to thank Kevine, as well as, her friend at BSC for recommending the NetHope Academy internship opportunity to her.

Peruth Mukanshimiye

Peruth Mukanshimiye, the youngest child of her large family, grew up in rural Rwanda.  Peruth saw technology as her way out of rural Rwanda and into the city.  To accomplish her relocation, she decided to attend Tumba College of Technology where she studied Information Technology.  While at Tumba, the head of the ICT Department informed Peruth of the internship program at NetHope Academy Rwanda.  She learned that historically Academy graduates had a high job offer rate upon completion of the program, and determined this would be a great catalyst for her to obtain employment in the IT field.

While at NetHope Academy, Peruth interned with the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC).  Here she provided computer maintenance, troubleshooting and user support.  This internship flourished into a job, where Peruth was offered full-time placement at IPRC Kicukiro.  She now supervises the center’s computer labs, while continuing to provide computer maintenance and support.  Peruth reports that she is “very happy at her job because I practice what I learned at college, [and] NetHope Academy helped me to be experienced…and self-confident.”

Peruth advises all new interns of the Academy to take the internship seriously and to explore the opportunity to its fullest.

Peruth would like to thank her parents, the Nethope Academy Team, Kevine, and IPRC Kicukiro.


NetHope Academy Rwanda is currently accepting applications for the upcoming cycle.  If interested in applying, please visit NetHope Academy Rwanda Homepage.

NetHope Academy Rwanda is sponsored by the Rwandan Development Board, Accenture, Cisco and Microsoft.

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Kenya Classroom June 2012

NetHope Launches Technology Internship Program in Kenya

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NetHope Academy scales to reach aspiring IT pros & entrepreneurs in three African countries

NAIROBI, KENYA June 14, 2012 – In March 2012, NetHope expanded its successful NetHope Academy program to Africa, making it available for the first time on the continent to students in Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa. NetHope Academy – a six-month program that provides computer science students with both classroom and on-the-job IT skills training – translates vocational training into private sector employment for young adults. Historically, more than 80 percent of NetHope Academy graduates have secured full-time IT positions within three months of completing the program.

Kenya Classroom June 2012

IT professionals are in high demand across the African continent. Employment opportunities, however, are often limited to those who have work experience. NetHope Academy provides training and certification in the most relevant technical skills, supplemented with practical on-the-job work experience and daily mentoring and guidance. As a result, graduates of the program are fully competent in the current IT sector and highly employable. NetHope Academy works closely with technology partners including Kenya ICT Board, Accenture and the Accenture Foundations, Microsoft, Cisco, ESRI, Global VSAT Forum and others to bring the best offerings to the intern program.

In March 2012, 36 students began their NetHope Academy journey in Nairobi with two weeks of intensive classroom and online training where they developed the most current and relevant IT skills. The students then began their internships, where they’ll gain nearly six months of on-the-job experience that will allow them to refine the skills they learned in the classroom. In addition to the Nairobi class, 36 other students in Kigali, Rwanda also began their NetHope Academy program in March. Nearly 700 students applied for a total of 72 coveted spots between the two programs.

“According to a 2011 National ICT Market Survey,  although an estimated 9,600 ICT graduates are absorbed in to the market annually, a third of the companies still contract external providers due to lack of relevant high end  skills and work experience in our workforce,” said Eunice Kariuki, Marketing Director for the Kenya ICT Board.The Kenya ICT Board is therefore elated at the opportunities offered by NetHope Academy in improving the capacity of local ICT graduates. It’s only when these gaps are addressed that we will be able to achieve Vision 2030.”

Two-thirds of the students in the Nairobi class are women, who NetHope believes will play a crucial role in growing the ICT sector in Kenya. NetHope partnered with the African Centre for Women in ICT (ACWICT) to identify the highly skilled young women who are now students in NetHope Academy and with both Microsoft and Cisco offices in East Africa to help recruit and place the students in internship positions for the next six months. The students are currently interning with a variety of host organizations including CARE, Save the Children, Dimension Data, the Government of Rwanda, among others. NetHope Academy also provides the students with job placement assistance and connects them with mentors who provide regular guidance and evaluation.

“We’re thrilled to bring NetHope Academy to Africa,” said Frank Schott, Director of NetHope Academy. “The students enrolled in both our Kenya and Rwanda academies are incredibly bright and eager to excel in their internships. We really have the cream of the crop in these classes.”

In addition to its traditional NetHope Academy program, this summer NetHope will launch a new program optimized for students who aspire to become IT entrepreneurs, vs. IT professionals like the students enrolled in the traditional NetHope Academy program. NetHope will partner with Enablis, a Canadian-based nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs in the developing world, to facilitate its entrepreneurial academy in Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana. Students will be admitted based on how well they compete in a business plan competition, and the top students will receive mentorship from current entrepreneurs. Select entrepreneurs will receive seed funding to pursue their business plans. Enablis will begin accepting applications for the program in June.

“We have been working closely with NetHope Academy since its inception in Haiti to provide interns with real-world IT work experience and practical education needed by employers working in the developing world,” said Adrian Lajtha, chief leadership officer at Accenture. “By expanding its efforts in Kenya, NetHope will equip students with the skills to become IT professionals and make a sustainable difference to the local economy.” Accenture’s commitment to NetHope is part of the company’s Skills to Succeed initiative, which will equip 250,000 people by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business.

About NetHope

NetHope, Inc., which started in 2001, is a new-generation collaboration of the international community’s leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing over $33 billion (USD) of emergency relief, human development and conservation programs in more than 150 countries. Through member collaboration and by facilitating public-private partnerships with major technology companies, NetHope enables members to leverage their technology investments to better serve their end beneficiaries. For more information, visit www.nethope.org.

For More Information Contact:

Angela Cherry, NetHope Media Relations

angelac@waggeneredstrom.com

+1-425-638-7161

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Haiti Graduates

NetHope Academy Haiti Graduates 29 Talented IT Professionals

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Opokua Oduro, NetHope Academy Internship Program, Program Manager

Haiti Graduates

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – (March 26, 2012) As the 29 members of the NetHope Academy 2012 Haiti graduating class convened in the Hotel Kinam lobby on Friday afternoon they shared smiles, laughter and camaraderie and I felt a huge sense of pride. On this day, these individuals were to be celebrated for a job well done, and I had the honor of having been with them from the start.

NetHope Academy connects young Haitian computer science graduates with opportunities to gain work experience as interns at local corporations and NGOs such as Voila and World Vision. This program is NetHope’s response to the reality that many young people who are lucky enough to receive an education, never get an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the real-world…and without that critical first job experience, they are often deemed “unemployable” when job opportunities do arise. Through the NetHope Academy, each graduate gains real-world experience through six month internships. Over the course of the internship, they also pursue a rigorous combination of instructor-led and online coursework to further their IT knowledge, develop soft skills and achieve certifications from Microsoft. Today they joined an ever growing group of talented IT professionals representing the best of the young IT talent in Haiti – NetHope Academy alumni have proven themselves in the marketplace.

MCTS Graduates

The Graduates, enrobed in dark blue and yellow cap and gowns, were greeted eagerly by their proud families, friends, mentors and supervisors as they processed to the stage to await their honors. Some Graduates wore red hoods, designating their achievement of the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist exam. A photo slide show streamed against the front wall depicting the interns at work, studying and at times just having fun. A song, created by a small team of NetHope interns about the NetHope Academy program looped in the background. For a moment I had a chance to reflect on how far we had come together in just a few months. Just six months earlier, I met each of these young people for the first time at their interview, each eager to be invited to join the program – and now, here they stood before us , another milestone completed, skills developed, relationships forged, and their lights shining brighter than ever, poised to take on the next opportunity with enthusiasm.

Kesner Pharel

NetHope’s investment in Haitian youth began in 2010, fueled by the principle that given an opportunity to gain practical work experience and soft skills instruction, these computer-science educated young people become proven, valuable resources to future employers. Overall, the program has been successful – NetHope interns are highly praised by the host organizations and IT Mentors receiving them, and often, job offers await the young people before they can even begin an external job search. Over 80% of NetHope Academy interns get full time employment within 90 days of completing the program.

Presiding as Godfather over the ceremony was Mr. Kesner Pharel , well known Haitian entrepreneur, economist, media personality, and education advocate. Mr Pharel urged the Graduates to “be innovative”, follow the legacy and accomplishments of Apple, Inc. late Founder and CEO Steve Jobs as they pursue their passion for technology. Voila Foundation’s Tanya Baskin urged the Graduates to continue their journeys in a manner that best impacts their community and to develop their professional livelihoods with curiosity and a passion for discovery. Marlène Sam, NetHope Academy Program Director in Haiti, reminded the interns of their responsibility to continue to strive for outstanding success based on all they had personally invested and all that others have invested in them.

Tabitha Plays Violin

The true highlight of the program was when the Graduates took the podium. Paul Marie Tabitha Georges and Evenel St. Vil, accompanied by Reginald Louis who translated, were selected by their classmates to represent their feelings of appreciation for the benefits the program had brought to their lives and their excitement about the future. The audience erupted with applause as Tabitha closed her sentiments stating, “fellow graduates, it is wise to keep in mind that this success is not final, so we must continue to move forward and work harder because our lovely country is waiting for us. Our Haiti needs our help…”
Later, the audience was treated to the artistic talents of a few Academy Graduates . Anne Doris Vital sang beautifully and the violin/guitar duet performance by Paul Marie Tabitha Georges was stunningly beautiful. Finally, the Graduates presented an award to Paul Marie Junior of JP/HRO (an Academy Graduate himself in 2011) for his outstanding leadership as an IT Mentor and to Keith Chibafa of World Vision for World Vision’s role in supporting the program through hosting the most interns over a two year period.

As I took the podium, I felt overwhelmed with joy. “Just a few short months” I thought to myself as I reflected again on the challenges overcome and achievements accomplished…I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. I thanked the host organizations and sponsors such as Accenture, Voila, Microsoft and Cisco for their investments in the NetHope Academy. I also thanked them for believing in these young people enough to invest in a program that helps young people develop a sustainable, fruitful livelihood. “We all stand behind you as you take your next steps forward” , I assured the interns. And then, in their native language of Kreyol, I urged the interns, ““Ou dwe kwe nan tet ou.” …You must believe in yourself.”

And they should. We certainly do.

 

Class of 2012

This year several outstanding interns, rich in energy, talent and dreams are available for hire in Haiti. These young professionals are the “best of the best” young Haitian IT professionals and would be a value to any organization looking to employee IT infrastructure, management, and/or entrepreneurship talent. For more information or to review resumes of available NetHope Academy Graduates, please contact Marlène Sam at marlene.sam@nethope.org

NetHope Academy is sponsored by Voila Foundation and Accenture, with in-kind donations made by Microsoft, Cisco, Transversal HT and Vervago. The NetHope Academy Haiti 2012 host organizations include: Voila, Digicel, Save the Children, World Vision, Fonkoze, ESIH, J/P-HRO, Le Nouvelliste, Mercy Corp, Multilnk and SOS Children’s Villages.

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NetHope Academy Haiti Trip Report

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Opokua Oduro, NetHope Academy Internship Program, Program Manager

Opokua (on right) visiting NetHope Academy in Haiti

Last month I traveled to Haiti to conduct a field assessment of our latest class of NetHope Academy interns halfway through their internships. As part of our standard evaluation process, we routinely survey the interns and their IT mentors using an online survey tool. The survey results allow us to gauge the progress of the interns in a very cost effective way but we often find that “deeper dives” through one on one interviews gives us an even better understanding of how everything is going.

At the onset of my trip, Frank Schott, our Global Program Director and I worked with Marlene Sam, NetHope’s Haiti Program Director, to identify areas where we needed more feedback on the program.  Key questions we wanted to answer included:

  • Why did we see a 10% dropout rate in the first eight weeks of the Program?  (We have never had anyone drop out of the Program before).
  • Why are the interns not completing the online training we require?  This is a new feature we recently introduced but our online reports show that few are completing the course assignments.
  • The feedback from the IT mentors has been sparse so far?  Are they unhappy with the interns?  Are they too busy?  How do they feel about the program?

Much has been written about the successes of the Program but we have always said that we want to be very transparent and share what we have learned (even our warts!) with others.

In our interviews with those that left the program it became clear that there was no one single factor that contributed to these setbacks.  Some said the program turned out to be too tough, a couple said that they weren’t challenged enough in their intern assignments, and others had family issues.  There are definitely things we will do to fix those things that can be fixed but one key finding is that we must restore the notion of an “Intern Alternate”.  That’s someone that can step in and be part of the program if something happens to one of our chosen candidates.

We also learned that sometimes what survey results suggest is a problem is not much of a problem at all.  Data showed that not enough interns are completing their online courses, and we discovered one factor was that some feared that hitting the ‘complete’ button on the course would result in them losing access to the curriculum forever. We thought they were not using the curriculum.  Instead, they like it so much they don’t want to see it go away!  A very fixable (non!) problem

And the feedback from the IT Mentors was uniformly positive.    They are busy and do feel like the interns are getting the feedback they need (which is key of course).  Some areas that IT Mentors want us to work on include better matching intern’s skills and interests to their internship assignment.  Others wondered whether our soft skills courses could be made available to their staff!

While there’s certainly room for improvement, we very much feel we are on the right track. I took careful notes during the interviews and I would be remiss to not share some of the comments that the Academy interns made in our time together.  Talk about ENERGIZING !!!:

“This is the best opportunity I’ve ever had in my life. I feel sure that I will find a good job because of all the resources NetHope has provided.”

-       Jean Ednor Paul

“This program helps me meet people who have now become IT professionals. It makes you feel that you are in YOUR environment. You feel…you can do it!”

-       Anne Doris Vital

“NetHope thinks about the young people in the country and gives us the opportunity to be something…to be someone in this life.”

-       Patrick Louis

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NetHope Academy’s Intern Program Expanding To Kenya

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FEBRUARY 2012. NetHope Academy’s Intern Program is now expanding to Sub Saharan Africa thanks to a generous grant from the Accenture Foundation and continued support from Microsoft, Cisco and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. As part of  NetHope’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, this expansion is a very exciting next step for the NetHope Academy as we continue our work to scale the development of young IT professionals in developing nations.

Over the last few months we both had the incredible opportunity to travel to Africa in order to identify a few of the first organizations we’ll be working with to grow the NetHope Academy Intern Program. We looked specifically for organizations that share our vision for providing the important skills youth need to succeed in the IT field, and those that care deeply about helping historically underserved populations like young women and people living in rural areas. We also focused on establishing partnerships with organizations that have proven track records of success in workforce development, and those that embrace NetHope’s own strong values around transparency and accountability.

During our time in Africa, we met with an amazing number of potential partners that work in the field of workforce development and human capacity building.  This is the story of one of the first organizations we’ll be partnering with and their dedication to educating women and bridging the IT human resources gap.

Established in 2001, the Kenya-based African Centre for Women, Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) works to promote women’s access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool for social, economic and political advancement. They do this by building ICT skills within women’s organizations, advocating for ICT policies, laws and regulations that support women, creating networks for knowledge and information sharing, and connecting women to valuable resources and employment opportunities.

In 2007, ACWICT, in partnership with the International Youth Foundation and Microsoft Corporation, began implementation of an employability program aimed at improving the economic prospects of young disadvantaged women through ICT and life skills training courses. To date, over 3,000 women, the vast majority from the slums of Nairobi, have graduated from the program and 70 percent of graduates have achieved full-time employment.

IT skills in Kenya are in high demand, but these opportunities are only open to people able to acquire the relevant skills and work experience. In partnership with ACWICT we’ll be launching the first NetHope Academy Intern Program in Kenya in April 2012, providing ninety (90) college educated, unemployed women with advanced ICT training and access to a full range of local internship and job placement opportunities.

We very much look forward to working with ACWICT and our first intern group in Kenya.

— Fredrik Winsnes (NetHope Global Program Director) & Lisa Obradovich (Accenture Development Partners)

Read more articles & stories about the NetHope Academy Kenya

For more information about the NetHope Academy Internships visit the Internship Program page.


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20 Years | 20 Ways: Microsoft donates MTA exam vouchers to NetHope

Grow your ICT skills and get the chance to earn a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification in the process. Do you want to learn more about Windows Azure, Windows Server Administration, Virtualization Administration, Enterprise Messaging, Lync Server 2010, SharePoint 2010 Application Development or how to design and develop Windows Phone Applications?

To celebrate 20 years of Microsoft Certification and as part of Microsoft’s 20 Years|20 Ways effort, Microsoft will donate up to 1,000 vouchers, redeemable for one Microsoft Technology Associate (“MTA”) Certification exam, to NetHope for distribution to eligible, aspiring technology professionals around the world.

See if you are eligible and request a voucher


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NetHope Academy graduates share how their lives changed

Read more articles & stories about the NetHope Academy Haiti

January 2012. Yoldy Jacques Simon and Jude Antenor graduated from the NetHope Academy internship Program in Haiti in 2011. Both are now working for Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) in Haiti. CHF is helping remove debris and rebuild the country. Yoldy and Jude are supporting more than 60 users across multiple departments and offices, troubleshooting computers and network and implementing new technologies so that CHF workers can do their jobs.

Read about Yoldy’s and Jude’s experience in Faces of NetHope.

Read more articles & stories about the NetHope Academy Haiti


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