This story comes from the Coeur d’Alene Press and Paul Amador of the University of Idaho on July 3rd, 2016:

What comes to mind when you think about typical summer jobs for teenagers? Do visions of flipping burgers, working as a lifeguard, or taking tickets at the movie theater come to mind?

How about jobs building, designing, and marketing advanced drone aircraft, or learning how to code and integrate interface panels for the petroleum industry, or installing and managing advanced computer networking equipment, or teaching kids how to code computer games, or even learning how to evaluate and respond to big data trends?

If your initial reaction was the first set of jobs mentioned, you can be forgiven. In reality, most high school students will be relegated to entry level positions in the service industries that thrive during the summer in our local area.

However, a small group of 10 local high school students will have a very different employment experience this summer, as they will have the opportunity to participate as a University of Idaho Dign’IT (Digital Innovation Generating New Information Technology) Intern.

The Dign’IT Intern Program provides these students the opportunity to learn about technology, data, coding, education, and business through a unique partnership between the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene, local technology-related businesses, and nonprofit groups.

The students — who were selected from a competitive application process — will spend 20 hours a week for eight weeks this summer, getting paid to participate in the three major components of the internship experience: learning about the local technology industry, helping to run a computer coding camp for middle school girls, and interning at a local technology business or nonprofit organization.

The 10 students selected as interns for the summer include: Sarah Janzen, a graduate of Coeur d’Alene High School, Savannah Bravo, a Junior at Post Falls High School, Luke Osborn, a senior at North Idaho Scholars Academy, Elijah Blake, a Senior at Post Falls High School, Madison Bechard, a senior at Post Falls High School, Sonya Fernandes, a Senior at Post Falls High School, Jonathan Gift, a graduate of New Vision High School, Karl-Michael Rehrmann, a graduate of Post Falls High School, Andrew Chasten, a Junior at Post Falls High School, and Benjamin Gibson, a graduate of Post Falls High School.

The businesses and nonprofit groups where these interns will be placed include: Exbabylon, a professional IT solutions company located in Hayden, Gizmo-CDA, Coeur d’Alene’s makerspace, xCraft a designer and manufacturer of advanced drone aircraft in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Intermax Networks, an IT, broadband, and cloud services company in Coeur d’Alene, Triple E Technologies a hardware and software provider of point of sales systems utilized in the petroleum industry, jeb commerce, a digital marketing, analytics and optimization company in Coeur d’Alene, Frontier Communications, a national Internet service provider, Extratech a manufacturer of motion controllers and interface hardware, and Innovation Collective, a community based group focused on sparking technological innovation in North Idaho.

Benjamin Gibson said he was particularly excited about working at xCraft.

“It is amazing that such a small company based here in Coeur d’Alene can be creating such revolutionary designs for drones,” he said.

Gibson is strongly interested in aeronautical design, and would like to one day earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and work in the aerospace industry.

“I am really excited about working with the girls during the coding camp,” said Sonya Fernandes, who served as an intern last year as well. “It is amazing to see how the girls learn so quickly, by the end of the week they have created a really cool game using computer coding and have learned how algebra applies to coding.”

Karl-Michael Rehrmann and Elijah Blake were impressed by the work at Triple E Technologies.

“You don’t realize how much work and technology goes on behind the scenes to make our everyday lives possible,” said Rehrmann.

“I had no idea that a local company would be doing business with other companies all over the country,” said Blake.

As for why these teenagers chose to pursue the Dign’IT Internship rather than a more traditional summer job?

“We’re basically getting paid to learn, why wouldn’t we want to do this during the summer?” said Savanah Bravo.

“The stuff we will learn through the internship will actually help us in future careers, we are really excited about this opportunity,” agreed Andrew Chasten.

And if those arguments are not good enough, they all concurred, “It looks good on a résumé!”

The goal of the Dign’IT program is to encourage interest in computer science and technology-related careers. In addition to the internship program, Dign’IT also consists of a summer coding camp for middle school girls, JAVA coding camps, teacher trainings on integrating coding into the classroom, cybersecurity training for industry partners, and a new joint bachelor’s degree program in computer science between North Idaho College and the University of Idaho, which begins this fall.

With the new joint bachelor’s program, students will be able to complete a degree in Computer Science without ever leaving Coeur d’Alene.

To learn more about the Dign’IT program please visit www.uidaho.edu/cda or call (208) 667-2588.