They say there’s no time like the present to start planning for your future, which is why Seattle Parks and Recreation through its nonprofit partner the Associated Recreation Council offers year-round technology access, training and opportunities for personal and career development in its community technology centers across south and central Seattle.
The RecTech program operates in six community centers. In addition to providing ongoing courses in subjects like tax preparation, digital literacy and resume creation, the technology centers allow neighboring residents who have little or no computer access at home to use technology in a supportive environment.
Each quarter RecTech hosts student internships to increase students’ computer literacy and better prepare them for college and careers. At the end of the program, students are eligible to receive a $599 stipend and service learning credits. This summer, student Jeausha Smith was eager to participate in an internship at Rainier Beach Community Center.
Smith will be a freshman next year at Rainier Beach High School. She said she never fully-committed to her homework in middle school and knew she needed to make a change. When she heard about the RecTech internship at the end of last school year, she decided the time to change was now.
“I want to take school more seriously,” Smith said, “even if it means using my own time in the summer to get a head start. Most likely any job I’ll get when I graduate is going to involve computers, so I need to learn those skills.”
This year’s internship at Rainier Beach is themed Media Arts and Culture. During the seven-week program the interns will develop individual and group digital arts projects and college readiness portfolios among other projects. The students meet with business professionals and take weekly field trips. Recently the group took a tour of University of Washington’s campus.
Tiffany Bigham is the RecTech Site Lead for Rainier Beach. She said students come to the program with varying levels of ability – some are just learning how to save documents on the computer while others are enrolled in Advanced Placement computer literacy courses in their schools.
“This program challenges the interns to take a unique look at themselves and figure out what they need to do now to prepare for where they’re going, whether that means applying to colleges or getting ready for careers.”
Many of Bigham’s students are interested in pursuing technological fields and said they want to make sure they’re on track to get into their dream schools.
Teddy Howard is going to be a senior at Garfield High School this year. He hopes to attend the University of Washington or University of California, Berkeley to study computer science or software engineering.
“I’m really into electronics,” Howard said. “I thought the RecTech program would be a good place to get more exposure to it.”
Diamontae Walker is going to be a sophomore at Rainier Beach. He wants to study computer engineering and hopes to one day create graphics for video games. He said RecTech’s trip to the UW this summer has helped him start formulating plans for his college applications.
RecTech summer internships will be wrapping up at the end of August, but new opportunities for youth and adults alike will begin this fall.
“Everyone needs to take a moment and figure out their future path,” Bigham said. “I’ll always be here to help.”
For more information about RecTech’s adult courses and youth development programs, visit http://rectech.seattle.gov/.