Changing the Face of STEM: Helping Students Gain Coding Skills Through Internships

September 15, 2022 | 2 min read

Tanner Clark and Zemicahel Yemane

BlueVoyant Partners with STEMcx, Baltimore-Area Nonprofit, Exposing Students from Underrepresented Areas to STEM Fields

Wrapping up our second summer as intern leaders for Baltimore-area high school students, we could not be more impressed with how they quickly gained the same love for coding that we share.

At the closing ceremony last month, eight interns shared their final coding projects — creative to say the least — which included drones, gif creation, automated weather reporting, and all types of computer games, including one that let you try your hand at Squid Games, Netflix’s popular series.

The interns were chosen from a highly competitive pool of 60 applicants. It is part of BlueVoyant’s work with STEMcx, the education arm of nonprofit Transforming Lives Community Development Corporation (TLCDC), which is dedicated to exposing students from underrepresented areas to STEM fields.

Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are often lucrative and in high demand; however, African American workers make up only 9% of the STEM workforce in the U.S., according to Pew Research. Worse yet, there has been no change in their share of STEM jobs since 2016.

BlueVoyant is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. We are honored to work with STEMcx and the students to help this important issue.

During the course of the internships, the students received hands-on boot camps in coding, visited BlueVoyant’s offices in College Park, Maryland and New York, and learned from our teammates, some of whom included our executives and engineers.

Some students came in with coding experience; others almost none. They all left with fresh skills and a new appreciation for the wide-array of STEM and coding opportunities available to them. A few students will be starting college in the fall, while others plan to further expand their knowledge while finishing high school.

At the closing ceremony, the students presented their work to a panel of judges: BlueVoyant’s Sangya Sharma, chief human resources officer; Adam Bixler, head of third-party cyber risk management; and Abdul Khan, a senior software engineer. They were judged on their coding abilities, creativity, and skills gained.

Incidentally, it wasn’t without reward. The grand prize winner received a laptop with accessories. Other prizes were for Most Elegant Code, Most Creative, and Best Project for Coding Newcomer, each of which came with a cash prize. In the end, everyone was a winner. All interns also received a $1,500 stipend from BlueVoyant.

The event even received the dignitary treatment. That’s because Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Maryland Senator Jill Carter, former Delegate Aruna Miller — running mate to Wes Moore, a gubernatorial candidate — and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen were on hand for encouragement.

In the end, we couldn’t be more ecstatic with how the internships turned out and, perhaps more important, we can’t wait to see what the students will accomplish in their promising futures.

Tanner Clark, a data engineer, and Zemicahel Yemane, a software engineer, both were internship leaders for the STEMcx program in 2021 and 2022.