2024 2024: Students explore career opportunities and develop skills during Tech and Innovation Externship

2024 2024: Students explore career opportunities and develop skills during Tech and Innovation Externship
Students explore career opportunities and develop skills during Tech and Innovation Externship

The cohort of students from traditionally underrepresented groups gained essential career skills, networking experience, and first-hand interactions with companies in high-growth industries

tribe academy externship group photo
UMassD and URI students, staff, and industry leaders gather for a group photo to celebrate the 2024 Tech & Innovation Externship program. Photo credit: Kei Tsuda

During spring break, 40 UMass Dartmouth and University of Rhode Island engineering, computer science, and business students who identify as coming from underrepresented backgrounds participated in the Tech & Innovation Externship led by Tribe Academy and sponsored by UMass Dartmouth, URI, and 401TechBridge RISEUP.

The externship, which took place from March 13 to 15, was an immersive career experience that included hands-on learning, team projects, company visits, and networking with diverse professionals and leaders from growing sectors such as high tech, the Blue (ocean-related) Economy, and the startup ecosystem in the southern New England region. Students also participated in professional development workshops on LinkedIn, technology trends, resume and interviewing, and career mapping.

Hear from UMassD students about their experiences with Tribe!

The culmination of the three days was team projects that focused on increasing access and inclusion in the Blue Economy sector. The winning team consisted of Somkene Chizea (UMassD, First-year), Jad Albatal (URI, First-year), Sharday Johnson (URI, First-year), Kwabena Owusu-Achiaw (UMassD, Sophomore), who presented their innovative idea on how to provide incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance and training within the blue tech sector.

"Tribe Academy helped me learn about different career pathways and gave me the confidence to navigate them," said Somkene Chizea, a first-year economics student at UMass Dartmouth. "I'm more confident in myself and my career and know what I need to add to my resume to be competitive for internships."

"Programs like Tribe Academy have allowed me to talk to people I might not have talked to or be in a new network to find an internship," said Tyree Brooks, a Junior computer science student at UMass Dartmouth and returning Tribe Academy participant who secured his internship at Wayfair in Boston this coming summer through his engagement with Tribe Academy.

Tribe Academy Student panel
Students hear advice on navigating careers during the Early Career Panel hosted in the Frederick Douglass Unity House, including perspectives from Guy Casenueve '23, Melanie Luperon '19, and Tyree Brooks '25 moderated by Angel Chizea' 24

In addition to members of Tribe Academy and faculty and staff from UMass Dartmouth, UMassD alums helped pay it forward. Nana Kwame Korankey ('23) facilitated an engaging site tour at Turner Construction, and Guy Casenueve ('23) and Melanie Luperon ('19) shared career advice as featured panelists.

"Tribe Academy understands the magic of UMassD students who continually show up and show out. Our students quickly learn they belong in tech industry career conversations that will change their life trajectories," said Peggy Dias, Executive Director of IT Services at UMass Dartmouth. "We are grateful for the partnership with Tribe Academy, which continues to open doors to our students and connect them with companies and professionals who are genuinely committed to diversity, equity and inclusion."

Site visits allowed students to experience first-hand what it's like to work at Jaia Robotics in Bristol, RI, Turner Construction in Cambridge, MA, URI Bay Campus in Narragansett, RI, and CIC in Providence and networking opportunities included meeting diverse professionals from UiPath, Microsoft, SiliconXL, Verizon, DEPT, Cleo, Dell Technologies, Inspire Environmental and Kraken Technologies.

"Engaging with the students of Tribe Academy is one of the most important ways industry leaders can interact with and provide exploratory exposure of what's possible in the careers of Climate Tech, Blue Tech, High Tech, STEM, and beyond," said Stacey Messier, General Manager, CIC, New England. "We were inspired by the students' curiosity, energy, and conversation throughout their time with our CIC Providence campus and would be delighted to participate in future programs."

Student panel at CIC Providence
Students hear from diverse tech professionals and leaders during a Venture Cafe event hosted at the CIC in Providence. Photo credit: Kei Tsuda

The externship was led by Tribe Academy, an award-winning, New England-based startup committed to developing the skills of the future. Tribe Academy combines industry and academia to accelerate students' and professionals' learning, growth, and career advancement through high-impact, experiential programs and events. Tribe Academy has impacted 1,000+ individuals since its inception and has collaborated with leading companies such as Amazon, Dell Technologies, Wayfair, Fidelity, Amica Insurance, Hanover Insurance, IGT, and more.

"To build the workforce of the future, we need to bring together academia and industry and make real investments in the current generation of students. We must do the hard work to show students the possibilities available to them in high growth, emerging sectors such as tech, entrepreneurship, and the Blue Economy," said Nishita Roy-Pope, Founder & CEO of Tribe Academy. "In just three days, 100% of the students increased their understanding of career opportunities, 100% would consider startup career opportunities, and 100% increased awareness of the blue economy and blue tech. Tribe Academy has proven time and time again that access, opportunity, and development matter, and we are honored to have completed yet another successful Externship program with UMass Dartmouth and the University of Rhode Island."

UMassD students discuss what they learned during Tribe Academy's externship

Nishita Roy-Pope, Founder & CEO of Tribe Academy, presented on the team project where students were challenged to work together to propose a unique concept to increase inclusion and access in the blue tech sector. Photo Credit: Tribe Academy
Nishita Roy-Pope, Founder & CEO of Tribe Academy, presented on the team project where students were challenged to work together to propose a unique concept to increase inclusion and access in the blue tech sector. Photo Credit: Tribe Academy

"We are proud to be a sponsor of the Tech & Innovation Externship to help ensure that these opportunities are truly inclusive. It was fantastic to host students at the URI Bay Campus and see their excitement as they learned more about advancements in deep sea exploration, understand the many types of partnerships in place to support ocean-related efforts in the local region and beyond and meet with startups who are creating blue technologies of the future," said Pete Rumsey, 401TechBridge RISE-UP Executive Lead.

"There is a growing need to raise awareness of the economic opportunities in the Blue Economy and innovation sectors. We are so fortunate to have programs like Tribe Academy's Tech & Innovation Externship that recognize this need and work to ensure everyone in our community has the opportunity to participate in this exciting part of our economy," said Christine Smith, Grow Blue Project Lead.

"Diversity makes solid business sense, which is why the STEM and tech industries are putting forth a concerted effort into diversifying their workforces and creating an environment in which employees of all backgrounds feel included and able to contribute," said David A. Gomes, Chief Diversity Officer at UMass Dartmouth. "Tribe Academy "walks the talk" by creating opportunities for students of color – a constituency group traditionally excluded from these fields – to enhance their skill sets, network with industry leaders and professionals, and provide career advice and counseling."

"The Tribe Academy Innovation Externship program was an great way to introduce students to the blue economy initiative. Students were exposed to business and industry leaders and had the opportunity to work with a team of students to pitch an idea which is evaluated by CEO's and other professionals in the field.  This program broadens the student's perspective on careers and provides hands on teamwork and communication experiences. What an awesome experience!" said Kimberly Scott, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UMass Dartmouth.

"Through hands-on experience, networking with professionals, and collaborating across universities, Tribe Academy students exemplify the impact of interdisciplinary collaboration and experiential learning. Through their dedication and innovation, students showcased the power of transformative research, intentionality, and community engagement in shaping a sustainable future through technology. It was truly an inspiring experience to witness," said Kevin Hamilton, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Belonging at UMass Dartmouth.

A cross-functional group of organizations sponsored the 2024 Tribe Academy Externship program. From UMass Dartmouth: Frederick Douglass Unity House, Career Center, Computing and Information Technology Services (CITS), College of Engineering, Charlton College of Business, College of Arts & Sciences, College Now, Division of Student Affairs, and Office of Diversity Equity & Inclusion. From the University of Rhode Island: College of Business and College of Engineering. Industry partners included: 401TechBridge RISEUP Program, CIC Providence, Venture Cafe Providence, Jaia Robotics, Turner Construction, Inspire Environmental, and Kraken Technologies.

To stay updated with upcoming programs and events offered by Tribe Academy, follow Tribe on LinkedIn or Founder, Nishita Roy-Pope on LinkedIn or email Tribe Academy. To learn more about how you can support UMass Dartmouth's engagement with Tribe Academy, contact Peggy Dias via email.