“Let’s celebrate 1 year of CSI Connect”

Exactly one year ago, the CSI Connect Internship Program was launched in Jacksonville, Florida (USA). The program, designed by CSI Companies, to empower underrepresented students and individuals to enter the field of technology, later proved to be the start of our global social program RGF Connect. How a local ripple can develop into a global wave…

Dominique Carter, the CSI Connect Internship Manager, reflects on the diversity problem, which was the driving force behind starting the CSI Connect Program: “Apart from addressing an internal need for diversity within CSI Companies, the IT Industry has a serious diversity problem. Only 10% of students enrolled in IT programs are African-American, while 37% of Jacksonville's population is African-American. In addition, just 12.5% of students enrolled in IT programs are female. CSI Connect is helping to change this narrative.”

“We are very proud that CSI Connect has been so successful within one year”, Dominique says, along with her colleague Tiffany McClary, Learning and Development Specialist. Tiffany reveals one of the secrets behind building a pipeline for students from an underserved community and exposing them to all the opportunities within the technology sector: “We aim to start creating this pipeline as early as Elementary School. Exposing children at such a young age to the opportunities and possibilities of technology, creates a future breeding ground.”

CSI Connect: unlike any other internship program

“CSI Connect is unlike any other program because we're truly passionate about the students we recruit”, Dominique explains in this video on the transformative power of the CSI Connect Internship Program. “We're giving them life experience with enriched programming such as Leadership Talk Tuesdays, Wisdom Wednesdays, Think Fit Thursdays and Financial Literacy Fridays.”

It's all about changing lives

What has CSI Connect accomplished so far, with 4 completed cohorts of students? Dominique: “During our first year, 30 interns completed our CSI Connect Internship Program. I would like to see that number multiplied by 10. We aspire to be the top internship program for students in Northeast Florida. I really want CSI to be on the map for changing lives. Some of the ways we plan to grow our program is by investing in our local High School Technology Magnet, exposing students to tech, encouraging them to choose IT majors in college and then offering them college internships. We attend all the local College Job Fairs and hope to expand outside of our local area soon. Lastly, we are incorporating adult career changers into our program; we give adults who are interested in technology the opportunity for hands-on experience and education to make a career change into IT.”

RGF Connect_foto's internship

Yvonne Mastenbroek, Chief Sustainability Officer: “I am very proud of the success of CSI Connect! A very valuable Internship Program where young students have great learning experiences within CSI Companies while they also bring adding value and diversity to the company. Thanks to CSI Connect we have launched the global program RGF Connect! Within RGF Connect we have a global network of social local initiatives, that connect underserved people to education, training and work. With all the initiatives together, we’re bridging even more gaps and breaking down barriers to the job market.” 

How did the CSI Connect story start…?

CSI Connect, founded by CSI Companies’ Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick (Chief Information Officer, CIO) and Chris Flakus (CEO), won the global RGF Staffing CEO Challenge. After winning the award, this was embraced by RGF Staffing: other group companies were challenged to launch local programs, reinforced by a wider global social program RGF Connect.