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Software development career via Macquarie internship

New York City, 06 Aug 2016

As a mentor to high school students for the past three years, Macquarie New York employee Kain Gonzalez knows how much his time and insight means to the young adults seeking advice and guidance.

“We can have a very profound effect on the younger generation and can shape a young person’s life in just a short period of time,” says Gonzalez. “Over the past four weeks we may have just turned our latest mentee, Haimid Alrobaye, into the next Bill Gates!”

Seventeen-year-old Haimid Alrobaye was a recent participant in Macquarie’s LEADS internship program, a four-week initiative offered to New York City high school students in conjunction with Columbia University's Double Discovery Center which works with low-income and first generation college-bound New York City youth.

During the summer program, students work on their college readiness, professional skills and career development, attend business educational workshops and participate in one-on-one mentoring.

“The students are engaged in all aspects of the business – working, formal professional development, socialising and giving back,” says Gena Upshaw from the Macquarie Group Foundation in New York.

“This year we saw 11 interns make their way through the program. Each intern was allocated to a team and multiple mentors after being matched by their interests, skills and personalities.”

Alrobaye recognised the internship program was a productive way to spend his summer holidays after it was recommended by a friend who was a previous participant.

“Last year I spent my summer working for my uncle in his deli, but this year I learnt something new to help me progress. I attended workshops, networked with people in the business world and got to go on field trips. Most importantly I now know what I want to study at college,” says Alrobaye.

This year’s mentors and mentees met earlier in the year as part of a series of social events designed to allow everyone to get to know each other outside of the office. The four-week internship program then started in July and each student was allocated to a team to take on a specific project over the summer.

Alrobaye worked with an IT team within Macquarie’s New York office and was challenged to scope out a mobile app for the guest relations team, to enable them to survey clients about their experiences using the office’s meeting facilities.

Gonzalez was impressed by Alrobaye’s determination: “Once we gave him the challenge, he immediately started to meet with the relevant teams to gather the functional requirements, research the delivery of the app and determine if it was more cost effective to build it in-house or use something already available in the market,” says Gonzalez.

“He then conquered his fear of public speaking by presenting his findings in front of a group of Macquarie staff, some of whom are now going to progress his ideas.”

As part of the internship, co-mentor Beth Blackie took Alrobaye and other interns to meet a local software company development team. She noted his motivation after the visit and his clear goal for college and a career in software development.

Blackie, who is a first-time mentor with the LEADS program, also learnt her own lessons.

“The experience has made me appreciate just how smart and talented these kids are right out of high school. College may teach important theory but nothing compares to hands-on experience.”

Since 2008, nearly 80 high school students have been mentored by Macquarie’s New York City employees as part of the LEADS program.

Image caption: LEADS intern Haimid Alrobaye flanked by mentors Kain Gonzales and Beth Blackie.