iMentor Volunteers Mentor the Next Generation of Software Engineers at the Academy for Software Engineering

December 19, 2012 - 6:07pm
AFSE students leaving their marks on Facebook's "wall" during a recent trip to the company's New York office.
AFSE students leaving their marks on Facebook's "wall" during a recent trip to the company's New York office.

The Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE), located just off Union Square in New York City, opened its doors for the first time this past September to a group of 126 9th graders. Offering an innovative curriculum of standard Regents-prep courses paired with computer science classes, the school aims to prepare students with the core competencies for not just college—but also future careers in New York City’s growing technology and entrepreneurial community. Through the school’s new partnership with iMentor, every one of these freshmen has been matched with an iMentor volunteer—many of whom hail from careers in software engineering themselves—in a four-year mentoring partnership to help them build these crucial skills.

Interim Acting Principal Seung Yu, says that in just a few short months, iMentor’s College Ready mentoring program has already been woven into the fabric of the school.

“The type of coordination that iMentor has—it’s seamless. Our program coordinator, Primo Lasana, comes in to implement the program, and our kids see him as a staff member,” said Yu.

“We thought iMentor would be a tremendous asset for us because, for kids in an urban environment, the more adult, professional role models they have the more they know that they have a number of support networks,” he added.  

In addition to learning computer programming as a fundamental part of their studies, AFSE students attend a weekly iMentor class in which they e-mail their mentors to discuss their progress toward academic and personal goals. They also meet their mentors once a month at an iMentor event, which takes place in the school’s cafeteria. Both in person and through e-mail, pairs work on iMentor’s college success curriculum to help students develop skills for college and their careers.

Michael Halloran, a new mentor who works in the technology and data division at Morgan Stanley, was excited to meet his mentee, Eliezer, for the first time – and was very pleased to hear about his interests in the field of technology when they had the chance to sit down together.  

“Eliezer told me he wants to learn programming language and develop more technical skills, and I have a lot to share with him in those areas,” said Halloran, who heard about the opportunity to volunteer through Morgan Stanley’s corporate partnership with iMentor.

“When I heard about what the program was during a team meeting at Morgan Stanley, it immediately seemed like something I wanted to sign up for and do,” Halloran added. 

Mentors and mentees at AFSE also have access to special tech-geared learning opportunities through iMentor. Mentors were recently invited to Google’s offices in New York City for a discussion on the growing importance of computer science skills in America’s changing marketplace, and mentees took a field trip to Facebook’s offices to hear a panel of Facebook employees discuss their roles within the company. In fact, one mentee said the trip gave him new ideas about potential professional development opportunities.

“We learned about the internships Facebook offers and what kind of work the interns do,” said freshman Diante Singleton. “They aren’t regular old internships—the interns actually get to work on projects that last three months. After hearing about it, I would love to intern there.”

We’re excited to see the new iMentor class at the Academy for Software Engineering flourish throughout the year as they continue to develop and work toward their college aspirations and career goals! We know that the support of their mentors will be especially helpful as they learn more about careers in software engineering.

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