Just over a year ago, Sandra Fenwick, chief operating officer of Children's Hospital Boston, received a call about the Year Up Program, which provides urban young adults with training and real world experience in technology-related jobs. Founder Gerald Chertavian proposed a partnership with Children's in which students would intern in the hospital's Information Services Department (ISD). Learning of the opportunity, Chief Information Officer Daniel Nigrin, MD, MS, arranged for Chertavian to meet with ISD directors Scott Ogawa and Paul Scheib. "After talking with Gerald, I decided this could be a win-win situation for all of us," recalls Ogawa. "I would get extra help, and the participants would get experience."
Through the one-year program, students spend six months in personal, professional and technical skills classes, and six months interning at a variety of workplaces, including Children's. "When the Year Up interns first come in, they usually have a minimum amount of experience, so we provide them with on-the-job-training," says Scheib. "Once they receive sufficient guidance and preparation, they take on responsibilities of their own." Year Up intern duties include moving and setting up equipment, answering Help Desk calls and assisting technicians.
In fact, ISD was so impressed with two Year Up interns—Vegas Richemond and Marlon Victoria—they hired them as full-time employees.
Victoria moved to East Boston from Colombia four and a half years ago. He heard about the Year Up Program through a high school teacher, and thought it sounded like a good opportunity. After completing his time in the classroom in July 2003, Victoria was placed at Children's and has been here ever since. "They thought this was a good place for me, and it was," says Victoria. "I love it!"
As an intern, one of Victoria's main tasks was working on the "Migration to Exchange" project, which involved installing software for Children's new email program. His supervisor was so impressed with his hard work and dedication that he offered him a full-time position. Victoria can happily recall the year, day and even hour he was offered the job, "December 31, 2003 at 5 p.m." When asked if he would recommend Year Up to others, he enthusiastically says, "Yes, they teach you useful skills, and most graduates end up getting really great jobs, like mine."
Richemond, a Boston native, was reading the Boston Metro one day when he came across an ad for Year Up. His application was accepted, and like Victoria, he was placed at Children's, and also worked on the Exchange project, as well as email troubleshooting. "I learned much more on the job than in a classroom," he says. When Richemond's internship ended, his supervisors recognized his hard work and knew he would be a great addition to ISD. For the past seven months, Richemond has been a full-time employee, experiencing more types of technical work, which he loves. "The scope is much broader," he says. "I troubleshoot, answer phones and go out into the field—I'm doing much more."
Children's has exceeded Year Up's expectations of providing valuable experiences for their students, and on November 10, the program presented the hospital with the "Year Up Champion Award" as a thank you. "Children's has been a huge supporter of Year Up since the beginning of our program," says Year Up Director of Internships and Operations Kimberly Zouzoua. "It's been a pleasure to partner with the hospital given their commitment to making sure technology is an integral part of providing quality health care."
And according to Nigrin, Children's was thrilled to receive the award. "It's a great honor and a great way to help both the community and the hospital."