Building Our Own Tech Talent Pipeline with High School Internships
Last Friday was the culmination of a lot of hard work — for the Jungle Disk team, and most importantly, for the 23 high school interns from across the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) that worked for Jungle Disk over the summer. They spent their time with us doing market research into an increasingly popular topic in the cybersecurity world — Internet of Things (IoT — meaning any advice, not just phones or computers that are connected to a network, like your smartwatch, thermostat and even medical devices).
We asked them to work in teams to put together presentations on potential products that Jungle Disk could offer to protect its customers against threats to their networks and IoT devices. To say that we were blown away by their presentations would be an understatement! These students are working at a much higher skill level than most would expect from high school interns. Our judges, who came from local top tech businesses and organizations, had a hard time choosing the winners, but ended up giving the top prize to Horus Net, who came up with an innovative product to protect medical devices in hospitals!
This is the second year we've decided to hire high school interns in order to take building our own tech and cyber security talent pipelines into our own hands. As many in the industry know, there is a disconnect between the high demand and low supply of interested and trained cybersecurity professionals. So, in order to meet Jungle Disk’s needs, we’re taking the effort, time and money to train the youngest and brightest for the jobs we need filled.
We’re not only taking on these high school students, but those in and out of college with the Students + Startups and Venture for America programs. We want to see other businesses put their efforts into building the workforce they want to see for the future!
It’s important to start exposing students to real work experiences in this industry at this crucial stage in their lives — right now is the time that they’re looking into colleges, exploring different career paths and defining their own interests.
This idea of taking on 23 high schoolers (in addition to our seven college interns) was no easy feat. Most businesses have some pretty solid excuses to not host interns — either they don’t have enough space, resources or the budget to pay them fair wages. But, through cross-industry collaboration, we’ve been able to create a manageable and sustainable program. We partnered with local organizations and schools (SAISD Foundation, SA Works and Highlands High School) to make sure that all the students’ needs were met — it’s a win-win for everyone!