SummerQAmp Tech Internship Expands to Boston, LA, Austin, Other Cities

2/28/13Follow @jpruth

Steve Martocci, co-founder of GroupMe in New York, let me drop by his office Tuesday so he could shed some light on how a summer program to train youths for technology jobs in quality assurance is expanding in its second year.

“We talked a lot last year about having an online learning platform,” he says. “We launched it.” More importantly, what started with internships in New York and San Francisco will spread this summer to Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Austin, TX.

SummerQAmp, which launched in 2012, offers students internships in quality assurance at companies such as eBay, Airbnb, and Foursquare. The program is geared for youths aged 18-24 from low-income and at-risk backgrounds. Quality assurance in technology ensures that apps and software function properly. “They’re good jobs; they’re touching software people use every day,” Martocci says.

Though such jobs are important to the development of technology, these roles can be overlooked and are often outsourced overseas. “The overall mission is to raise awareness about this career path that people don’t realize exists,” he says. “People who are hiring for it, companies don’t even know where to find talent.”

A coalition of organizations and companies has rallied to further develop the program. Not-for-profit CampInteractive in the Bronx continues to partner with and help organize SummerQAmp. QASymphony in Dublin, CA, provides tools the interns can use to practice their skills. The curriculum is being developed in conjunction with the Association of Software Testing.

The online learning platform is provided by the CK-12 Foundation, Martocci says, introducing applicants to quality assurance before the program even starts. “It’s an entry level position,” he says, “You don’t need experience, but the basics of what is software testing—knowing this makes the interview process better.”

Martocci says the pilot program came together very quickly last year, and after the organizers digested what they accomplished, they upped the scale for 2013. “Last year we did the whole thing on $25,000,” he says. This year SummerQAmp plans to raise $100,000 to support the expanded program.

SummerQAmp was introduced last March with support from Martocci; Kevin Haggard, who is currently director of quality engineering at WhaleShark Media in Austin; Jason Baptiste, CEO of OnSwipe; rocker and philanthropist Jon Bon Jovi; and Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the White House. Martocci hosted a reception last July for some of the kids participating in the program in New York.

This year’s applicants must complete a prerequisite online course by March 31 to be considered. Placement will be conducted through April to assign the interns to the participating companies.

Martocci believes SummerQAmp can evolve even more in the future to help others, such as veterans and former convicts, get fresh starts in the job market. “People looking for a career path where they can make a big impact fast and jump into the game, this is one of those areas they have no idea about,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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