Dance to Data Science: The PIC’s Skill-Building Bootcamps

During February vacation, Amaury Perez refined his photography abilities, while Kiya Buncome danced and wrote thank-you letters to contacts within her network. These experiences constituted the multifaceted offerings of the PIC’s skill-building bootcamp program, sponsored this year by Amazon.

During the Media Arts bootcamp, BPS students at the LoopLab learned how to use cameras and the fundamentals of production.

Perez, a junior at John D. O’Bryant, attended the Media Arts bootcamp at the LoopLab this February. Organized by the PIC in collaboration with Boston employers and nonprofits, these bootcamps take place during February and April school vacation week. They provide high schoolers with opportunities to explore careers and build skills that will help with future internships and employment.

“Thanks to the bootcamp, I understand the importance of building your network and how it can greatly help you get where you want to be,” said Kiyah Buncome, a junior at O’Bryant, who participated in an arts boot camp hosted by EdVestors. “I’ll make sure to connect with a lot of different people in the future because you never know how you’ll be able to help someone out and vice versa.”

Other bootcamps this year offered participants a chance to hone skills ranging from coding and data science to architecture, design, and financial literacy. Students receive a stipend for attending these boot camps, which serves as an incentive for students to spend their school vacations on learning.

BPS students explore a variety of careers during bootcamps, ranging from dance (pictured) to computer science.

In the bootcamps, students participate in engaging activities designed to challenge and encourage them. For instance, in April’s data science bootcamp, hosted by Amazon, students analyzed data from the World Happiness Index and presented their discoveries.Industry and nonprofit partners host boot camps to engage with the abundant young talent in the Boston area and to ignite their enthusiasm for potential careers. Bootcamps can demystify complex subjects, demonstrating that they are less daunting than students may have believed.

Anthony Almanzar (far right) hosted a career panel with his colleagues and volunteers from State Street, Lightcast, and Boston Properties.

Anthony Almanzar, IT Program Manager at State Street Global Advisors and one of the organizers of the data science bootcamp, said that he wanted students to not only learn what data science is but to acquire new skills and to “spark their curiosity.” State Street has worked with the PIC to organize a data science bootcamp for the past three years.

Some employers also volunteer for the bootcamps to inspire students like themselves.

Students at the data science bootcamp, hosted by Amazon, took data from the World Happiness Index, analyzed it, and presented unique findings.

“As a member of the Latin American ERG (Employee Resource Group) at State Street, I volunteered to take part in this bootcamp because I wanted to inspire young Latinas and show them that they can be successful in business,” said Susan Pugliani, Principal of Professional Services Operations at Charles River Development.

Maria Kloiber, a Mechanical Systems Engineer at GreenSight, was the organizer of the February Robotics Bootcamp, which aligned with the company’s broader objective of fostering an interest in and engagement with STEM. “We want students to gain confidence in themselves and learn that they have the ability to quickly pick up on these technical skills, even with a limited background.” 

“Giving kids exposure to engineering through bite-sized boot camps and teaching them a bunch of skills in a short period of time can really inspire them, encourage them, and show them that they have the capacity to become engineers,” she said.

At the robotics bootcamp, hosted by GreenSight, BPS students created a “SeaJelly,” an underwater aquatic robotic that mimics the movement of a jellyfish.

Companies benefit as much as students from hosting bootcamps

“I’ve noticed when working with high schoolers, especially high school interns, that they come in with fresh eyes,” said Kloiber. “They don’t have any preconceived notions…and just come into it completely new and can give a unique perspective.”

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