By Jeané Blunt. When starting out in tech, many job applicants are faced with the same dilemma—you need a job to gain experience, but most jobs require experience. Raymond Cheung, associate director of IT Field Services at UCSF, believes internships are the answer to that conundrum.
His organization works with Year Up, a nonprofit organization that aims to help young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support to help them reach their education and career goals. The Year Up program interviews interns and matches them with internships, based on their interests and companies’ needs. In recent years, many candidates interested in desktop support have been placed with UCSF IT Field Services.
Cheung is consistently impressed with Year Up interns, “Many times they have the background and the knowledge, but they can’t get their foot in the door because they’re lacking that experience. Sometimes they’re doing retail or a customer service job, which works for us because a lot of what we do is customer-facing,” he said. “You need to know how to talk to customers, have thick skin, and also figure out the problem. Those soft skills are helpful for those who come in without the IT experience. It’s our job to provide the IT experience and help them grow.”
Diana La, a field technician at UCSF, and her team are responsible for training interns and working with them on a daily basis. La said the process is rewarding because she enjoys helping the students gain experience. She also said it is bittersweet, because when interns are succeeding and performing well, it usually means it’s time for them to go.
Alex Hernandez, a former Year Up intern said, “My experience with UCSF’s ITFS Internship was life changing. As an 18 year old who didn’t know what to do after high school, it opened my eyes to a new field of work and environment. One that I would never think I would ever fit into, but thankfully I felt very welcomed and fit in just perfectly.”
When full-time positions become available in IT Field Services, the interns are in prime position to apply. Contract positions generally range from three to six months. Though competition is fierce, these positions present a great opportunity for interns to build their experience and work on different teams.
Cheung said, “When hiring an intern, we’re hiring someone that’s already here. We know their behavior and we know their work ethic. We’ve found great people coming through. They’re sharp, they’re smart.” He said, “One intern who was hired fulltime immediately started asking about certain processes and suggesting improvements. These are people we wouldn’t have found without this program. Without the two years of experience required, they would have never made it past the HR screening process.”