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Aug. 14, 2012 10:30 am

Digital Service Fellows: School District IT apprentices graduate and vie for jobs as computer technicians at public schools

It’s been a busy year for the nearly two dozen Digital Service Fellows who graduated last week. The fellows, ages 17 to 24, spent the year as apprentices to IT technicians in the Philadelphia School District and eventually took on those roles, responding to calls about failed hard drives or spotty Internet. They took classes […]

Digital Service Fellow Christian Colbert (center) helps kids at the Francisville Recreation Center make a movie on the computer.

It’s been a busy year for the nearly two dozen Digital Service Fellows who graduated last week.

The fellows, ages 17 to 24, spent the year as apprentices to IT technicians in the Philadelphia School District and eventually took on those roles, responding to calls about failed hard drives or spotty Internet. They took classes at the Community College of Philadelphia, earned IT industry certifications and took on service projects at local recreation centers.

DSF is an Americorps program and part of the Urban Technology Project, a partnership between the School District and the nonprofit Communities in Schools. It’s a program for high school graduates interested in alternatives to a four-year college program, says program manager Crista Collins. Prospective fellows don’t need any experience with technology, as they get trained throughout the year.

What’s next for the fellows?

Jessie Cunningham, 22, who’s one of four women in the program, just got hired at Northern Liberties web dev firm Jarvus to be a program manager. She’s also vying for a position as a Computer Support Specialist at the School District, a position that’s thought of as a “second-step” after the Digital Service Fellows program.

Xavier Bartley, 20,  who became a fellow right after he graduated from Northeast High School, is also applying for a Computer Support Specialist position. He’s considering taking computer science classes at a local college.

Christian Colbert, 19, who also attended Northeast High School, will be one of the Digital Service Fellows team leaders next year.

Updated 8/14/12 12:35 p.m. to fix a quote that previously read, “It’s meant to be an alternative for high school graduates with no interest in a four-year college program, says program manager Crista Collins.” It now reads: “It’s a program for high school graduates interested in alternatives to a four-year college program, says program manager Crista Collins.”

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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