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“I’m pretty interested in the intersection of politics and computer science,” says Brown CS student Fabrice Guyot-Sionnest, “it’s always been so interesting to have an impact on so many fields in the community.” With such diverse interests, it should come as no surprise that Fabrice has not only found a home at Brown, he’s made a profound impact on the lives of his fellow students by founding Bears@Work, an innovative internship program.
Although now firmly an integral member of the tech community, Fabrice wasn’t originally set upon this path. Growing up in Chicago, his passions lied within the fields of government and political science, and computer science wasn’t even on the radar. However, he was drawn to Brown precisely because of its open curriculum and the ability of each student to carve their own path, and it was through this exploration that he came upon the world of CS.
“It became clear to me that Computer Science is an incredible tool,” Fabrice explain, “to change the world and the community.” And it was this capacity to really make an impact that became evident while interning at the Office of Governor Raimondo at the Rhode Island Executive Office of Commerce.
Through this experience, Fabrice had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of Rhode Island businesses and quickly realized that so many of these firms had an enormous demand for computer scientists, but were completely unaware of the plethora of CS talent available at Brown.
After seeing this mismatch, Fabrice decided to found a new program called Bears@Work to connect Brown CS students to local Rhode Island companies in year-round paid internships opportunities, while also helping students explore the tech ecosystem in Rhode Island by organizing monthly trips around the state.
The program became an immediate success and quickly made an impact throughout the Brown CS community. Utilidata, a real-time analytics and control technology provider for the energy industry, illustrates just one of many accomplishments of Bears@Work. The firm hired a Brown student last year who was interested in Environmental Science, and was able to utilize her talents to modernize their work on monitoring energy usage in real time. But the reach of this program isn’t just limited to the Brown CS community.
“We really want to show that we are invested in the Rhode Island community,” explains Fabrice. Just last year, the program invited the CEOs of six local Rhode Island companies to come and have lunch with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Brown CS to foster the opportunity to interact and identify unmet needs in the community. Companies like Utilidata are able to find the talent they need on campus to give the next generation of innovators the opportunity to truly make an impact right here at home.
With so much potential, what comes next for Fabrice and the organization? Well, Bears@Work still has a ton of work to do and there are a few goals he has in mind to continue its mission. First, he hopes to spread awareness about Rhode Island’s unique program in which the state government will help companies offer competitive wages by paying half of intern wages across the state. This feature is often not noticed by students and firms alike, and provides a vital alleyway for Rhode Island businesses to utilize local talent. Second, he wants to build a cohort of students to foster a sense of community and shared achievement as they intern over the summer. Finally, he especially wants to provide opportunities for first-year and sophomore Brown CS students who often get overlooked by larger national corporations. The work is never truly finished, and Bears@Work continues to press forward in its mission to connect the next generation of software engineers to opportunities that allow them to innovate within the community.
Bears@Work will be at the Fall Career Fair to provide information to CS students interested in the program, and information about the organization itself can be found at their website. For those students who are interested in joining the team at Bears@Work to make an impact through the organization, click the following link to contact Fabrice.
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communications Outreach Specialist Jesse Polhemus.