What began as a school field trip ended up as an internship opportunity with the Creative Services team at Information Network of Arkansas (INA) for Blake, who will be a senior at a Little Rock high school in the coming school year. INA’s General Manager, Bob Sanders, invited students from several local high schools to come to the INA office to learn more about how we are helping the State achieve digital government success. One student, in particular, really stood out with his probing questions and enthusiasm. That student was Blake. Several weeks later, he was invited with a handful of other students to return to INA for mock interviews that would help them prepare for finding employment following high school graduation. Again, Blake impressed the interviewers with his interest in design and coding. So much so that he was offered a short term internship to learn more about website design.
“I won't lie[,] on my first day I was very nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But it was Ryan, Brent, and Kim who made me feel like I belonged and took away my nervousness” explained Blake. It really went away when Brent was showing me some of the day to day front end development he was working on.”
For five weeks, Blake showed up once a week for a couple of hours at our office to shadow members of the Creative Services team. Our team had never done anything like this in the past but we wanted to take part in INA’s efforts to mentor young people and encourage them to enter the field of information technology. We showed Blake the various software tools and types of front end code we use as well as examples of current and completed projects we had worked on.
“During my time at INA I feel I learned more here than anywhere else this year. Mostly because Ryan (my mentor) and his team were very relatable, and took time to help me understand the ins and outs of designing” wrote Blake after completing his internship. “Overall, my experience at INA was amazing! Even though we didn’t have much time together I feel better prepared for design work after my experience.” Blake plans to continue on the path he started with his internship. He began taking html cod[ing] classes, and says “If only I was actually working at INA, I know I would love it.”
Blake was the model intern. He was excited by everything we showed him. He, and others like him, are why we continue to reach out to our high school contacts for opportunities to encourage careers in IT. It’s where our future lies and we want to nurture and serve as role models for these aspiring designers and developers. We enjoyed having Blake with us for the short period of time and we wish him the best in his dream to become a web designer. Who knows? Maybe his wish to work at INA will come true!