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Break Through Tech at FIU places 25 interns at American Express

on February 1, 2024 / by Nikki Cabus ,

Read Time 3 Minutes

Departments & Schools - FIU College of Engineering and ComputingBarbarella Castillo graduated from a private university shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had plans to pursue medical school but, like the rest of the world, she put those on hold. After re-evaluating her options, she decided to pursue her interest in computing and enrolled in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing. 

Barbara Castillo

“It was an excellent decision,” says Castillo, who in 2023 graduated from FIU with a second bachelor’s degree and a full-time job waiting for her at American Express. She landed the position with the help of a unique three-week internship facilitated by Break Through Tech Miami.

American Express Vice President of Technology Donna Peters, who hosted some of the interns, says partnering with programs like Break Through Tech, which is designed to increase female employment in technology, helps support American Express’s goal of embracing diversity to fuel creativity and innovation.

Nimmi Arunachalam, Director of Break Through Tech Miami

“We firmly believe that innovation thrives on diverse skillsets, backgrounds, and experiences,” says Peters. “What is most satisfying for me is witnessing the “aha” moments when the pieces of the puzzle come together, and student learnings come to life.”

“Sprinternships,” as they are called, are micro-internships designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Unlike traditional internships, they don’t require students to ace a technical interview as a prerequisite. This removes one of the most common stumbling blocks for students attempting to enter the workforce, says Director of Break Through Tech Miami Nimmi Arunachalam.

“Hiring managers can get a better sense for a student’s long-term potential by seeing them perform in a natural environment rather than in a hypothetical, problem-solving scenario in front of a whiteboard, like what is typically presented in a traditional tech interview,” Arunachalam said. “Evaluating students in an organic setting, where they work on a team and solve a challenging project, could be a better way of predicting future performance and fit.”

Twenty-five students participating in the inaugural cohort received either a job offer or an internship offer from American Express.

Posted with permission from Break Through Tech Miami

Break Through Tech at FIU places 25 interns at American Express