STEP-UP internships go high-tech

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June 25, 2012 by Sarah M

// By Patrick Roche //

Local technology company Agosto showed off its newest hires, six Minneapolis high school students, June 25 to Mayor R.T. Rybak at their North Loop headquarters.

The students got their internships through STEP-UP Achieve — part of the city’s STEP-UP program, which helps students get job training and employment at area businesses.

Eros Deva graduated from Southwest High School on June 1 and started working for the technology firm in mid-June. Deva was born in Albania, where his parent’s technology store first sparked his interest in computer science.

“My dad specialized in designing websites,” Deva said. “… I was always sort of interested in the programming aspect of the job.”

Deva starts school this fall at the University of Minnesota for a computer science and business double major.

Agosto CEO Aric Bandy said  hiring high school interns is a good way to spark interest in technology at an early age.

“There hasn’t been a lot of opportunities for high school students to be able to understand what a career in computer science and [information technology] looks like,” Bandy said. “We wanted to give an opportunity for students that are a little younger to look at how this career may benefit them.”

STEP-UP Achieve Director Jeremiah Brown said  3,300 students applied for the STEP-UP program this year and about 1,850 youth will gain employment from it. Brown expected about 750 of those positions to come through STEP-UP Achieve, which focuses on youth ages 16 and up.

Brown said STEP-UP encourages young people to take an interest in fields they may not have much contact with, such as jobs that involved science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, skills.

“(STEM) is where we see the future shortage in workforce to be the most extreme and some of the most meaningful opportunities for young people’s careers,” Brown said. “We are really trying to overcome young people’s natural desire to stay in their comfort zone and push them to more beneficial opportunities.”

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