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Red Hat is working to encourage the next generation of developers and computer programmers, and we are proud to work with The University of Massachusetts to help sponsor some of their intern and summer leadership, technology and computer science programs. The goal of these programs is to support college-aged students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in careers in technology, engineering and science.

This summer, Red Hat is proud to sponsor the Leadership Academy, a new program launched by UMass Amherst and partners, led by equity and inclusion expert Nilanjana “Buju” Dasgupta. The goal of the Leadership Academy is to offer an online, fast-paced accelerator program for students of color and women to kickstart their journeys in technology and engineering. This is especially important during COVID-19, when many internship opportunities have been cancelled.

For many students, but especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in technology, internships can bea key part of how they learn and make connections in the field. The program will help students develop their professional skills, learn how to communicate in a workplace environment and help them navigate unexpected early career challenges. These are all skills that Red Hat views as essential.

The Leadership Academy came out of a Massachusetts-statewide network called Researchers, Educators, Business Leaders and Students (REBLS) that is funded by the National Science Foundation, and lives within the Institute of Diversity Sciences at UMass Amherst. Participating students, all majoring in technology or engineering, are a diverse group from 16 colleges and universities across Massachusetts; 72% are women, 48% are Black or Latinx, and 24% identify as LBGTQ.

Helping students develop the skills needed to succeed

Red Hat is also involved with other programs and initiatives that have the goal of helping students develop their tech and business skills. For three summers, Red Hat has been involved with RAMP: Research Academic and Mentoring Pathways to Success, a UMass Lowell program for entering first-year engineering students, with a focus on women and other underrepresented students, led by Kavitha Chandra, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering.

In the program, students earn credits with classes such as calculus, and work on real research projects, with topics ranging from sensor design to computational modelling. Students also meet weekly with mentors from Massachusetts technology businesses, such as Red Hat. In contrast with previous summers, when Red Hat mentors such as Denise Dumas dropped in for single presentation, this year’s Red Hat volunteers are working regularly with the same small “Red Hat RAMP” group on a design thinking case study, working exercises on giving and receiving feedback, developing software system design fundamentals, and developing technical interviewing skills.

Throughout the program the Red Hat volunteers and students collaborate, providing real-life experience in working on inclusive teams. This year’s volunteers are Denise Dumas, Anne-Louise Tangring, Kate Carcia, Laura Wright, Pallavi Ravishankar,  Kirsten Newcomer, Diane C Ferguson, Catherine Robson and Sarah Coghlan. We hope to maintain our engagement with RAMP students throughout their careers at UMass Lowell, and encourage them to participate in other Red Hat Research programs such as summer internships as they build strong support networks for their professional success.

Helping first-generation college students soar

Another summer intern program that Red Hat has been involved in is SoarCS, a program led by Fred Martin, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Undergraduate Studies in the Kennedy College of Sciences. Hosted through the UMass Lowell Kennedy College of Science, SoarCS is a diverse and inclusive environment for incoming first-year students, focusing on first-generation college students.

In the program - also being held virtually this year - students work on computer science projects and learn coding skills using a micro:bit miniature computer that’s mailed to their home. Last summer, the student’s work culminated in a presentation at DevConf.US, the Red Hat sponsored technology conference for community projects and professional contributors to free and open source projects. This year’s students will regroup in September to participate in DevConf again.

In addition to the dedication and support of these UMass academic programs, Red Hat has a robust internal summer internship program. This summer, we are hosting more than 200 interns virtually across seven business and operational functions, including PnT, Marketing and the People Team. Interns at Red Hat have also been hired to fill several key roles across the organization.

If you are interested in learning more about the work we are doing with our internship and academic programs, or have questions, please contact us here.

About the author

Heidi Picher Dempsey is the Research Director, Northeast US for Red Hat. She works to seek out and grow research and open source projects with academic and commercial partners in areas such as operating systems, hybrid clouds, performance optimization, networking, security, AI and operations. As a network engineer and operations leader, she designed, built, integrated and operated many different nationwide suites of prototype cloud infrastructure for academic, government and industry use, including the National Science Foundation's GENI project clouds. As part of the CTO Research program, she encourages diverse participation in computer science and engineering research, and promotes collaborations with Red Hat researchers.

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