I came to Red Wing for the first time this summer to take advantage of one of the three tech internship opportunities offered through Red Wing Ignite. If the word “internship” makes you think of a position doing cheap, trivial work primarily for the sake of corporate recruiting, my experience was something very different.
During a period of two to three months, my employers depended on me to build, from the ground up, a new web application that employees would be using on a daily basis. Together my team of three interns provided solutions for four local organizations that might have otherwise left their tech-related needs unaddressed.
I found the experience quite worthwhile from my own perspective as well. Apart from helping the Red Wing community, it helped me to gain new vocation-specific technical skills as well as the confidence to know that I’m able to finish such a large-scale project well beyond the scope of my undergraduate coursework.
College students studying computer science and information technology have a lot more power than members of that age group have ever had before. In their early 20s, without a ton of professional experience, they already have the ability to turn ideas into big-name websites, help existing companies function efficiently enough to stay competitive and play a central role in building our increasingly technology-dependent society. Even in a small town like Red Wing, there are plenty of areas for young students at nearby colleges to make a big contribution.
But these internships are also important for the future. Not only do they help prepare local college students to join the workforce of tomorrow, but they also help convince them to start their careers in the Minnesota area, not run off to the West Coast to find work as tech-minded college students are apt to do. It’s clear that these internships are a great opportunity for everyone involved and will help advance the local economy in years to come.
Jonah Tuchow was a Red Wing Ignite Tech Intern and attends Carleton College.