In the summer of 2015, Michael Malachi was working in sales at West Elm, a furniture store in Center City. The job paid the bills but it did not provide Malachi with a fast-paced career and the upward mobility that he longed for.
That’s why he became a Digital Service Fellow as part of the Urban Technology Project’s IT pre-apprenticeship program with the School District of Philadelphia.
Malachi, 25, is wrapping up his yearlong term of service where he learned skills like how to reimage Macs and PCs and how to use Google applications.
“I now understand the details of a computer systems and networks to a higher degree and how to use them to my advantage to get projects done quickly and effectively,” he said.
UTP is looking for recruits to join the 2016-17 Digital Service Fellowship cohort. Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 24 and possess a high school diploma or GED. Although it is a rolling application, management encourages potential candidates to apply now.
The 2015-16 DSF program had 24 members from the Philadelphia area, including this reporter. Members provide tech support to both the Philadelphia and Chester School Districts, plus a host of other digital literacy programs throughout the area.
The program, which has seen its budget cut over the last few years, was showcased by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in 2014, when Perez chose to make an announcement about a federal grant opportunity at the School District. A coalition of Philly apprenticeship programs, including UTP, was later awarded a $2.9 million federal grant as part of the program that Perez announced.
UTP has also worked with Jarvus cofounder Chris Alfano to teach students how to code. Alfano ended up hiring two UTP fellows who still work at the Northern Liberties web dev firm today.
Malachi is wrapping up his last few weeks as a DSF and currently looking for a tech job. Now, he says, he has more options than he did when he was working at West Elm.
“The possibilities are limitless,” he said.-30-
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