Digital transformation ‘Power(ing)Up’ job prospects for high school students

Sharpstown High School 2014 graduate Jairo Luna prepares laptops at a NetSync warehouse for distribution to classrooms, July 2, 2014. The Sharpstown PowerUp coordinator recommended Luna for the internship. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

Jairo Luna

HISD is only one full year into its one-to-one laptop distribution as part of the district’s PowerUp initiative, but that hasn’t stopped students from reaping the benefits of the district’s bold, three-year push to close the digital divide.

Three Sharpstown High School students—Class of 2014 members Kevin Gordwin and Jairo Luna, and junior Keion Jackson—have already landed three of the coveted summer internships available with NetSync, the district’s approved vendor for distributing computers. And, they’re making good money while doing it.

“This has allowed me to earn a lot more than I would (at a fast-food restaurant),” said recent graduate Luna, who plans to study criminal law and become an attorney. “The working conditions are also way better.”

As a part of their duties, the interns are helping to process the 18,000 laptops issued to students at the 11 high schools in Phase 1 of the one-to-one distribution and are preparing the devices for redeployment in the fall.

“They’re doing pretty good,” said NetSync Technician Jerry Navarro, who jointly supervises the interns with a colleague. “Right now, they’re learning how to reimage the hard drives, reconfigure the settings, and set up computers, printers, and other equipment for teachers.”

The students are also working on similar projects for other school districts, including Arlington, Fort Bend, Laredo, McAllen, and Pasadena. Navarro estimated the facility where the students are interning processes between 500 and 600 units a day.