Letters: Internships can help fill skills gap

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I started my IT career at the age of 17 as a high school senior.

My high school in Massachusetts—the High School of Science and Technology—partnered with MassMutual Financial Group on a program called Information Systems Academy, or ISO. My computer science teacher saw my passion for computer programming and nurtured it.

During my sophomore year, my teacher invited me to become a member of the computer club. During my time in the club, we competed against other high school students at competitions that were held at Westfield State College and Western New England University.

At the time, my high school’s curriculum was more advanced than what colleges were teaching. I believe this occurred because my teacher previously worked as a computer programmer and through the partnership with ISO, he tailored our curriculum to the skills that were in demand at companies like MassMutual.

Some of my classes include C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic programming languages. During my time in ISO, I stood out even among the college students in the program. I was eventually hired by MassMutual despite not having a bachelor’s degree.

Over the years, MassMutual invested in my up skilling, including Skill Soft (now Percipio), on-site training at the MassMutual University facility, and college classes that were made possible by their generous tuition reimbursement program.

Ten years after beginning my career at MassMutual, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University.

I believe that Indiana businesses and schools can partner together to create high school and college internship and apprenticeship programs like the one that started my career.•

– Sheldon Barnes

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