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Nonprofit places 200 DC students in virtual technology internships despite coronavirus impacts

On-Ramps to Careers is a nonprofit that focuses on connecting students in underserved communities to career paths in the tech field.

WASHINGTON — As calls for racial equality continue across the country, a D.C, nonprofit is working to make sure young people have equal opportunities to succeed in the work place.

On-Ramps to Careers placed 200 minority students in tech internships this summer despite facing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is something that is life changing. It has changed my life as a student," Rosalie Ngatchou said.

Ngatchou graduated from high school this year, has her eyes set on college, and is preparing for a career in the technology industry.

"I owe everything to On-Ramps in terms of knowing what I want to do, having an idea, a sense – some guidance of what I want to do in life," she explained.

Ngatchou is currently in her second summer of interning with tech companies through On-Ramps to Careers.

The nonprofit connects students in minority and underserved communities to career paths in the tech field.

"We start working with the students on communication skills, interview skills. We do mock interviews, and we partner very closely with employers in the city," said Hillary Jones, executive director of On-Ramps to Careers.

She explained the work the organization is doing to expose students to the tech industry is important because of the of the focus on underserved youth in the city.

"We know there is really under representation for black and Latino individuals in the tech field," Jones said.

The internship and training programs that the organization is known for was almost stunted because of impacts related to the coronavirus pandemic, but several companies stepped up and created virtual opportunities for hundreds of students.

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"The job that I was going to be doing was really hands on, but because it is virtual, it is a lot of seeing it through the screen and having my supervisor explain exactly what they’re doing," Ngatchou explained how her internship is different this summer.

Students are doing everything from developing apps and working on websites, to coding and implementing digital media campaigns.

"We know that racial inequity is a real problem. We know that there is also a huge wealth divide," Jones said. "We want to make sure that we do everything we can to address those issues, and, for us, that’s by creating job opportunities that put our young people in a position where they’re able to really make change."

If you are interested in contributing to the work On-Ramps to Careers is doing, visit the organization’s website.

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