The tech industry is about connections, from creators and coders to developers and data managers to programmers and engineers—and everyone in between.
By pairing area high school students with career coaches/mentors from Oakland’s burgeoning technology industry, the Oakland Public Education Fund’s TechLink program creates similar opportunities for students to engage, explore, and gain hands-on experience in their areas of interest.
TechLink is a mentorship and paid summer fellowship for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in the computer science and engineering pathways at Oakland Tech, McClymonds, CCPA, and Castlemont high schools. The program targets students of color and girls, who are underrepresented in tech.
“The Oakland Public Education Fund’s TechLink program has created an exciting pathway for talented Oakland students to explore their potential in the tech world,” said Zach Cohen, co-founder of ROOR, an artist-led platform that provides opportunity and access to bridge the gap between physical and digital products, including fashion, design, and more.
This past summer, TechLink students with an interest in design participated in ROOR’s Digital Sneaker Design class, a Sports Analytics and Tech workshop led by TEAM Inc., and an AutoCAD design session created by The Hidden Genius Project.
During the workshops, TechLink students learned project planning, persistence, and marketing in the modern digital marketplace. Using a process that merged traditional and innovative construction techniques such as design, material selection, and cutting, students deconstructed, designed, and rebuilt their own custom sneakers. Their designs have been digitized and can be viewed at this link.
TechLink students also gained industry exposure during the summer through field trips and career panels with business partners that include Intel, Pixar, Chase, Mission Bit, Berkeley Engineering, Google, Laney College, and MADE Museum.
“Our TechLink partners give Oakland students the opportunity to explore their future in a practical, hands-on way,” said Alexandria Medina, Ed Fund Executive Director. “They’re investing not only in the future of our students—they’re also ensuring a diverse, qualified workforce for their businesses and organizations.”