Have New York Startups Matured Enough to Train Interns for Tech Jobs?

The crop of companies being born in New York and relocating here has revived the city’s entrepreneurial spirit with the potential to transform the economy. Projects such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to establish an engineering campus on Roosevelt Island could help populate the city with more tech-savvy people, but that is still years in the making.

In the meantime, programs such as SummerQAmp and hackNY are working fast to match students with startups at a time when low-cost labor is essential in the competitive job market. But there may be some reluctance among local startups to take on interns in a community that is still early in its evolution.

On Wednesday night, I dropped by a reception at Foursquare’s headquarters for SummerQAmp, a national initiative with local roots that was introduced in early spring. The program gathers youths aged 18-24 who are interested in technology and teaches them skills they will put to work as interns at participating startups. The program focuses on students from low-income and at-risk backgrounds to give them a taste of careers in the technology industry.

SummerQAmp has some notable local supporters, including OnSwipe, Gilt Groupe, and even rocker Jon Bon Jovi. As altruistic as the program sounds, it’s providing a service that the companies themselves probably couldn’t tackle on their own.

A fair number of startups, especially the newly minted ones in New York, are just beginning to understand how to manage themselves—never mind overseeing interns. Some companies were launched by recent college grads, while other … Next Page »

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