Interns Code for a Cause

Interns Code for a Cause

By Tracy Haver, Technology Development Program (TDP) Manager, AT&T.
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Multimedia from this Release

“Team Ohana,” the group of interns that won the challenge include Morgan Reiner, Greg Ichord, Edward Li, Benjamin Ritter, Rafik Rizik, and Cristina Moore

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 4:35pm



This year I celebrate twenty years with AT&T. I’m a proud AT&T employee. But there are some experiences in particular that remind me why I’m so glad to be here.

I grew up the child of a Navy master chief, and I married a Navy Seabee who is now an AT&T employee, too. My work friends know that I’m passionate about my role in the Technology Development Program, which helps launch the careers of future software developers, project managers and business analysts. I’m also passionate about serving those who have served us and utilizing our company’s resources, including our technology to help the military community.

When I got a call from my colleague and veteran Michael Siruno with the opportunity to help a non-profit to serve veterans around the country, I jumped at the opportunity.

Michael’s idea was to utilize Technology Development’s annual Intern Coding Challenge to assist Heroes on the Water. Heroes on the Water is a nonprofit that helps active duty, veterans and their families with rehabilitation services through kayak fishing and the outdoors.

We tasked the interns with designing a new website for HOW. Adding functionality and efficiency to the site would allow HOW volunteers to dedicate more time to helping veterans than administrative tasks. Fifteen AT&T intern teams worked one day per week throughout the summer to create a functional site, a video demo, and a quick pitch to a judging panel before returning to school. I had the opportunity to join the founder of Heroes on the Water, Jim Dolan, as he heard the quick pitches from the intern teams. Every team not only delivered the functionality that HOW needed, but went above and beyond. They took the time to research and consider the end users of the site – veterans, volunteers, donors, and HOW leadership – and they made sure each user’s unique needs were addressed. Their work will be implemented by HOW and used to serve the military community for years to come.

It was a career highlight for me to see Mr. Dolan so incredibly delighted by the creative ideas that each team presented. I had the chance to visit with the interns after the pitches, and I found that this opportunity resonated with them, as well. They were grateful for the chance to use their incredible technical talent and the power of technology to build a better tomorrow.