NewsPolk County


Kathleen High School Risk Club partners with tech firm to offer high-paying internship

risk club.PNG
Posted at 9:04 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 21:04:56-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — A Polk County after school program is providing students with unique opportunities to enter the tech industry.

Kathleen High School’s student success coach Mr. Jeffrey Williams is passionate about helping students reach their full potential and it’s why he started Risk Club 14 years ago.

“You can't be what you don’t see. So, we do college tours, business tours just different fun-based field trips to give them exposure: let them know it’s a bigger world out there,” said Jeffrey Williams.

Senior Essence Gaines, dreams of becoming a cosmologist, but she also enjoys coding.

“I want to learn how to make apps because I want to have my own shop. So I want to make my own booking app. I feel like that would be fun,” Gaines said.

Students like Essence will be learning how to build apps, code, and much more, thanks to a partnership between risk club and ServiceNow, a major tech firm based in California. The goal is to expose Black and brown students to the tech industry, where minority groups remain underrepresented. Johnnie Swanson is interested in a career in computer science.

“I’ve been very tech involved since I was a kid. I had like old phones, tablets and I loved to just mess with them and see how they work,” Swanson said.

It’s also a step towards closing the digital divide, ensuring students have equal access to opportunities that internet connectivity affords.

“A lot of time in our communities we don’t have even Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. So, by giving these kids these opportunities it lets them excel and then learn about the space they never would have tried,” Williams said.

Williams said 20 students will each receive a free MacBook, and at the end of the six week program, five students will earn a high paying internship with ServiceNow.

“By building up their self-esteem and confidence and getting the knowledge early, they're pretty much unstoppable, unlimited,” Williams said.