When I met Litzy for the first time at her high school, I was impressed. Litzy was a member of the Dell Student TechCrew, a program that trains students to become industry certified technicians and use their skills to set up IT helpdesks at their schools to serve their peers. I thought I might be talking with a future leader in the IT industry.
Litzy and I chatted while she caught up on some IT tickets, and I asked what drew her to the class as one of only two young women participants. She shrugged. “My dad made me take it,” she said, “I would never have picked it on my own.” My heart sank. I realized she was right, but we could change that. IT could be the kind of class anyone could join.
I never would have seen myself working at Dell, either. I was an educator by training and trade, with a master’s degree in Maternal and Infant Dietetics. I was still a project manager for a school district in Texas in February 2015 (and a Dell customer!) when my journey to Dell began, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was trying to plan summer work; we had 15,000 devices coming in for a “summer refresh” and 15,000 new devices that we would need to deploy—all within the span of eight weeks. It was an impossible task. No matter how I looked at it, there just wasn’t enough time for our team to do the work.
So I did what I always do when I need inspiration to solve a problem: I visited a classroom and worked with students. As I washed beakers with them in the science lab, the students bemoaned the lack of summer jobs. That’s when it hit me: they need summer jobs, and I need capable technology workers. I spun up the opportunity to engage kids in this solution via paid summer internships. Our program went on to win a social impact in education award from Dell that year.
When I was ready for a career change, I knew from my interactions with Dell employees that it was a place I could thrive. I had met Craig Epstein, Vice President of Quality Engineering, when he came to observe our student IT program. I put him to work sorting and untangling cords while we talked, so he could experience the good and the bad of having 35,000 kids with devices—the reality of customer experience.
Apparently he didn’t hold it against me, because I joined his team as an education specialist in 2016. A couple of years later, I transferred to the Giving team to help create and support education opportunities for kids around the world.
Now I lead our philanthropic endeavors for the United States and Canada, as well as managing the growing program that is TechCrew, which moved from a pilot in 2019 to a full fledged program in 2020—and it’s still expanding. This year, we will reach students in 23 school districts across 12 states. We’re focusing on rural, low income, and low access areas.
Back in 2015, I could never have foreseen that today I would proudly sport a Dell employee badge, creating social impact in education for kids all over the world. Kids like Litzy, who is about to graduate high school and pursue a degree in computer science at the college of her choice. I had the privilege of writing her letter of recommendation.
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