A group of U.S. technology companies has launched an IT internship program aimed at helping low-income young people get a start in the industry through quality assurance jobs.
Backers of the new SummerQAmp program hope to get commitments from tech companies to provide more than 1,000 QA internships this summer. The program, aimed at people ages 18 to 24, is focused on QA because those jobs can be a stepping stone to other software jobs, said Steve Martocci, co-founder of GroupMe, a group-messaging software vendor.
"QA is one of these jobs and careers that you can't really go to school for," Martocci said during a press conference. "People really tend to learn their skills on the job."
Among the companies joining GroupMe in supporting the program are Gilt Groupe, an online clothing retailer; Onswipe, a publishing app developer; and eBay. Also supporting the effort are Aneesh Chopra, former CTO at the U.S. White House, and musician Jon Bon Jovi.
Bon Jovi serves on a presidential panel focused on community programs and helped connect the program's organizers with each other, participants said.
Many software QA jobs have been outsourced to other countries, but the program is an attempt to grow those jobs in the U.S., said Kevin Haggard, vice president of quality engineering at Gilt Groupe. "We need to create more tech jobs and keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation," he said. "People don't realize this is a very viable career opportunity."
The new program is a response to President Barack Obama's call in January for businesses and other organizations to create 250,000 summer internship opportunities for low-income young people, organizers said. Obama called for businesses to offer internships that can lead to long-term careers.
The new IT-focused program is "exactly in the spirit of the president's challenge," Chopra said. "This is an area of economic growth, with jobs and industries in every corner of the country."
The program will help young people see IT as a potential career, "no matter what your background," he added.
Organizers hope to offer free QA training resources on the program's website.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.