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 August 1, 1999

Companies reach out to younger students for on the job training

BOULDER — David Davenport is one of the success stories.

Davenport started his career in the high-tech industry as a college intern, working for United Technologies Micro Electronic Systems in Colorado Springs for four summers. Now Davenport, 24, works as an information technology specialist at IBM Global Services and says his interning experience was a definite advantage when he entered the job market.

“It put me ahead of everyone else graduating from college,” he says. “It also gave me some early experience to figure out what I wanted to do as a career.”

Now Davenport works with elementary and high school students so they might pursue careers in engineering. “I find outreach back to the community very important,” he says. “People helped to get me where I was. This is one way I can give back to the community and help other students.”

IBM is only one of several companies in the county active in community programs for young people. Companies are donating equipment to help schools improve programs and offering internships for students looking for real-world experience while they are still in school.

“One of the things we’re doing is giving the students good job opportunities, so they’re going to come out with good skills,” says Bill Prater, director of IBM Communications and University Relations. “We also hope, frankly, that we can influence them to coming to work for us.”

Having the University of Colorado in Boulder only makes the county more attractive to companies wanting to expand or relocate. Several companies have relocated to Boulder County this decade, and all must compete for workers when unemployment rates in Colorado are at an all-time low.

IBM used to wait until students were in their junior year of college before allowing them to work at the company, but now because of the labor shortage in the high-tech sector, IBM is bringing in freshman and sophomores and has a few openings for high school students.

Volunteering

Most internship and job opportunities come available during the summer when employers might be looking for relief for employees on vacation. But teens aren’t always looking for pay. Charlotte Neyland, manager of the Volunteer Connection’s Longmont office, says many teens also look for volunteer opportunities during the summer.

“The No. 1 thing that our youth board has told us is that they want volunteer jobs throughout the county to lead to career development,” Neyland says.

The Volunteer Connection, which has a Web site on the Boulder Community Network (bcn.boulder.co.us) and offers a matching service for volunteers and businesses, also has a youth board that is working on a training manual for non-profits on how to manage volunteer programs. The board will work on the manual through October.

“It teaches them philanthropy,” Neyland says.

The city of Boulder and the city of Longmont also have youth boards that work with the city governments to develop programs for their peers.

We need to do something’

Amy Ogilvie, supervisor of youth services for the city of Longmont, says businesses have always contacted her to ask what they can do to help. For one, Hurricane Charley’s Sports Grill and Dance Club in Longmont has offered to start a teen dance night, and private individuals have offered money for various projects.

Ogilvie estimates the department has received $5,000 in equipment and funds over about three months. Some of the funds went to a teen theater troupe that does anti-violence skits.

“After Columbine, the media attention to youth and youth’s needs increased really a lot, and I think businesses were seeing that and saying, We need to do something, too.’ As a result, we’ve had more and more folks becoming involved.”

America’s Promise

David Finnegan, senior vice president of First National Bank of Longmont, says the bank affirmed its commitment to adolescents in the community through its involvement with America’s Promise, an alliance for youths of individuals, groups and businesses led by Gen. Colin Powell.

America’s Promise is centered around five basic “promises” — mentoring, protecting, nurturing, preparing and serving — that should be fulfilled for youths to grow up as successful adults.

Powell says giving jobs to teens and asking for their participation in community service programs instills pride, self-sufficiency and independence and might divert some from committing crime to earning money or respect. He also believes the business sector should help adolescents by being mentors and contributing to school programs and activities.

America’s Promise is aided by the American Banks Association (ABA), of which First National Bank of Longmont is a member. More than 1,000 banks around the United States have signed on to become “Banks of Promise,” a campaign to encourage the banking industry to help youth in their communities.

Finnegan says the bank’s involvement in social programs for youth is good for business. “We just think it’s a smart investment in the youth in our community, and we’ve seen in our history that that’s paid off big dividends.”

BOULDER — David Davenport is one of the success stories.

Davenport started his career in the high-tech industry as a college intern, working for United Technologies Micro Electronic Systems in Colorado Springs for four summers. Now Davenport, 24, works as an information technology specialist at IBM Global Services and says his interning experience was a definite advantage when he entered the job market.

“It put me ahead of everyone else graduating from college,” he says. “It also gave me some early experience to figure out what I wanted to do as a…

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