Ed. note: This is part of our series on InDay projects that all of our colleagues from across the globe participate in each month. This week, we hear from Mike Jennings, Director of Corporate IT, who is helping to coordinate LinkedIn’s partnership with Year Up, an education and internship program that strives to close the opportunity divide.

Over the past four months, LinkedIn has added six valuable new members to our IT team.

But these aren’t your typical interns. They’re participating in Year Up, a one-year intensive education and internship program that strives to close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults, ages 18-24, with a unique combination of job skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

L-R: Candida O’Neill, Earl-Bert Parco, Keith Jones, Darnell Torres, Derisha Johnson, Anthony Tamalo, and Mike Jennings (program sponsor)

LinkedIn is the first Silicon Valley-based company to take part in Year Up. The program, which gives students access to career paths they might not have found, supports LinkedIn’s vision of creating economic opportunity for professionals around the world. This includes aspiring professionals as well.

After successfully completing the first six months of the Year Up program mastering business fundamentals – appropriate social etiquette, email or presentation basics, etc. – students are placed in internships with local partner companies, like LinkedIn. Many of the students who participate in this program come from disadvantaged communities. Some only have experience in retail stores or restaurants. Most of them have never attended college or stepped foot in a corporate environment before.

Each of our six interns is doing a six-month rotation in our IT department – from Events and Audio/Video, to mobile, Helpdesk and Hardware Support. They are getting a comprehensive understanding of IT, along with all the other employee perks.

We’ve been very impressed with the results that the interns have delivered during their time here. In addition to providing technical support for LinkedIn’s employees, they’ve become a valuable part of our team, adding energy, enthusiasm while helping reduce our team’s workload.

Take, for example, Earl-Bert Parco, a 19-year-old from Daly City, Calif. Earl-Bert joined Year Up to help pay for college tuition and earn college credit. He was immediately attracted to LinkedIn because he wanted to learn everything he possibly could about computers. Earl-Bert loves troubleshooting and configuring mobile devices, and he’s done an amazing job for our mobile team. He hopes to return to college and launch a career in the IT industry.

With his natural desire to learn about music, soundboards and mics, Anthony Tamalo, a 20-year-old from San Francisco, has been a valuable asset for our A/V team. He plans to enroll in an ethical hacking class at City College of San Francisco and may even venture into the programming world. “Before LinkedIn, I only had an idea of how a soundboard works,” Anthony said. “I’ve familiarized myself with the different teams that make up Corporate IT. My resume is now extensive.”

We look forward to helping these talented individuals succeed professionally, here at LinkedIn or wherever their next move may take them.