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GroupMe Partners Up to Introduce a New Generation to Tech Jobs like QA

Today I’m excited to launch SummerQAmp, an initiative to train a new workforce in high-tech skills, specifically Quality Assurance, and help create tech jobs for American youth. Developed as a commitment to the White House’s Summer Jobs+ initiative, the movement is being led by me, Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the White House, Kevin Haggard, Vice President of Quality Engineering at Gilt Groupe, Jason Baptiste, CEO of Onswipe and musician Jon Bon Jovi.

I was inspired to develop this program because of the wonderful experience I had working with the QA team during my time at Gilt Groupe and the success of our QA team here at GroupMe. QA teams are extremely important as they ensure that we, the developers, can deliver high quality software after codebase becomes extremely complex. Automated testing only covers so much and QA professionals are the final line of defense in those harder-to-test environments.

I also learned that, for many people, QA wasn’t a job you can train for in school. Some QA managers had engineering backgrounds, but many others had no training in the field. I often thought about where one could even get the training and what it would entail. During my career, I’ve watched some entry-level QA managers go on to become really good software engineers. Over time, I realized that this is both a potential career path and a starting point for those who may want to be software engineers.

We practice what we preach here at GroupMe. We have a great QA manager named Tobias McGuigan, but realized he was having trouble testing our application to run on four smartphone platforms by himself. We decided to take on a QA intern to grow the team. I encouraged my brother Mike, who had helped me to test my past startups, to consider the role. Mike eventually joined and quickly came up to speed with our QA processes. He now knows exactly how our applications should perform as well as our developers do. Mike has far exceeded our expectations and is providing tremendous value to the company.

Recently, my co-founder Jared and I had an opportunity to dine with Jon Bon Jovi and members of his team. The topic of job creation came up and I told Jon my story and my belief in QA as a source of jobs. He pushed me to bring this message to others and introduced me to Aneesh Chopra, who was CTO of the White House at the time. Aneesh thought the idea fit perfectly into the White House’s Summer Jobs+ initiative to create more jobs through technology and came on board to help create the program. Thus, SummerQAmp was born.

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SummerQAmp is more than a movement to create internships though. We’re also going to work with Neeru Khosla and the CK-12 Foundation to design an online course that introduces SummerQAmp participants to software development. In addition, we’ll be developing an educational genome that can help direct students down the right path to learn more about different software careers (e.g., IT, engineering, QA, etc.). When we launch this online educational resource later this year, we will be leveraging the power of the Web to reach hundreds of thousands of people who are interested in QA and software development.

I’ve already reached out to many of my colleagues at tech companies and venture capital firms to get them involved. In addition to GroupMe and Gilt Groupe, companies like Onswipe, the CK-12 Foundation, eBay, and Boxee have already pledged to offer QA internships this summer. A number of other tech companies, investors and non-profits, such as JIBE, Knewton, SV Angel and Fiver Children’s Foundation, are helping to develop and guide the growth of the SummerQAmp movement.

Our goal is to create 1,000 internship positions across the software and mobile app industry and we hope that many more tech companies will join us in this initiative to create a new workforce of QA managers right here in the U.S.

To join the roster of companies that are committing to create tech jobs in America this summer, visit www.summerqamp.org to learn more about the SummerQAmp movement and to sign the pledge to create a QA internship at your organization.

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(L-R): Kevin Haggard, Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Martocci, Jason Baptiste and Aneesh Chopra.

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