Bitwise reaching back to middle-schoolers

February 16, 2011
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Ron Brumbarger never sleeps. At least it’s easy to get that impression with all the irons he has in the fire.

Brumbarger, who runs website developer Bitwise Solutions Inc., actually has more employees, 30, in Ukraine than in Carmel. The Ukraine outpost is staffed with former Soviet scientists and mathematicians who are crack problem-solvers. (If Ukraine ever develops an entrepreneurial culture, the world will change in an instant, he says.)

As Bitwise took on better and better contracts, it priced itself out of reach of small customers. So four years ago the firm started hiring high schoolers for $9 an hour to put up low-budget sites for customers with less money to spend, like handymen and even an African orphanage. Anything to avoid having to tell a potential customer no.

So many younger children wanted to join “Bitwise Fellows” that Brumbarger is now starting “On Deck” for seventh- through ninth-graders.

The On Deck crowd will shadow Bitwise professionals, help with simple tasks, attend meetings and otherwise get a taste of a real-world workplace.

No worries, child labor opponents. It’s only for a couple of hours a month, and no money changes hands. On Deck is simply a chance for kids to volunteer and get a little experience to see if they really want to join the Fellows program.

“It’s kind of like growing the J.V. team,” Brumbarger says.

How do you like the idea?

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  • Inspiring
    I am not a teacher by profession, but I do instruct a junior high and high school level performance group as a second job. (Not because I need it, but because I love it!)

    I had to give kudos to Mr. Brumbarger for seeing the potential of students this age. I think that often adults will count them out or assume that they are either not motivated enough or smart enough to do contribute to something that seems so advanced.

    In my experience, kids (especially at this age) are yearning for meaningful experiences. Often the only opportunities through the school are sports, and music programs are being cut by the hour. I think it's really awesome that a business person would step up and provide an additional avenue for kids to learn the value of hard work.

    Great job!
  • Great idea
    I love this idea! Good to see a private company offer services to school age kids. That's a great educational opportunity for them to get an even better taste of the world around them that they're not going to get while sitting in class reading books.
  • Terrific idea
    Kudos to Ron for finding creative ways to enagage future entrepreneurs.
  • Previous Fellow
    As a previous Bitwise Fellow (the high school students), Ron and his work is awesome. I'm glad to see the reach going further and am really proud to say I was a part of the beginnings. I wish I could have gotten started sooner, such as in middle school, and am jealous of the youngin's who can do that.

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