RoboSource’s passion lies in training the next generation
Since its founding, RoboSource has worked with more than 100 students and recent graduates in its apprentice program
Experience is Gold: Erwins Anilus’ Story
“As a first-generation college student, I think the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome has been figuring out all of college mostly by myself,” said Erwins. “My parents have supported me along the way, but there has still been that disconnect between my experiences and theirs.”
Erwins started working at RoboSource early, halfway through his sophomore year, through an internship program offered by IUPUI. “I was a completely inexperienced programmer with no idea what it was like to work for an actual software company,” he said.
Erwins walked into the office and instantly changed the culture for the better, with his big smile and booming laugh. Erwins definitely breaks the “developer” stereotypes. Everything is more fun when he’s around, from talking about favorite foods (Erwins’ is anything on a stick) to actual programming, in which you’d often find his chair pulled up to someone else’s desk, preferring to work together.
Erwins’ family is from the Caribbean island of Haiti. They moved to North America when he was very young, hopping around between the United States and Canada before eventually settling in Indiana.
Erwins spent a little over a year at RoboSource, getting hands-on experience in software development. “Since being an apprentice was my first step into real software development, I learned so much about what real-world development is all about. I learned that the classroom is not the best representation of how it is in the office, and I learned that teamwork is so much better outside of group projects. But mostly, I gained experience,” Erwins said.
As a first-generation college student, I think the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome has been figuring out all of college mostly by myself.
Change Your Dream: Ryan Clough’s Story
When Ryan was a senior at Taylor University, he was diagnosed with a form of cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma) after a football injury just wouldn’t heal. Then-girlfriend Ashley stuck by him through treatments and surgeries, and they got married not long after graduation, eventually adopting two sweet sons.
With a fresh new business degree, Ryan pursued jobs in banking, healthcare, and insurance, but slowly started feeling that he was missing his true calling in life. Though he was in his mid-30s, Ryan decided he was ready to make the sacrifice to change to a programming career.
Enter RoboSource. Through friends of friends, Ryan was able to come on board with RoboSource and learn the needed tech skills while on the job. “Honestly, connecting with RoboSource could not have come at a better time in my career. It provided an absolutely fantastic environment for me to transition into a role in software engineering. I benefited not only from working alongside brilliant and experienced mentors – I was also learning alongside other apprentices that were trying to find their way, too.”
Over four years as an RoboSource employee, Ryan went from being an on-the-job apprentice to a programming master, learning skills while getting paid to do it. Eventually Ryan became one of RoboSource’s most trusted mentors to college apprentices and handled some of her flagship accounts. The career transition was absolute.
When family needs necessitated a move to Ft. Wayne, Ryan was easily able to secure a software engineering job at Symplexity. “The experience and knowledge I gained at EduSource positioned me perfectly to step into my current role and be successful.”
But occasionally, when he’s in Indianapolis for the day, Ryan will pop in and work remotely from the RoboSource offices. This is where change started for him, and that still means something.
Finding Value: Libby Edward’s Story
Libby Edwards wasn’t the kind of kid who was always tinkering with technology. She didn’t spend her days playing video games or figuring out how her parent’s desktop computer worked. So when she decided to pursue a computer science degree, Libby was really learning everything for the first time. She said that the biggest obstacle she’s had to overcome in being in a technical field was “feeling comfortable in my own skin around brilliant people in technology.”
While pursuing her computer science degree at Taylor University, Libby says that she constantly felt inadequate. “I would compare myself to my peers and see them coming up with astounding solutions on their own, while I would find myself at the professor’s desk asking for help,” she said.
After her sophomore year, Libby became RoboSource’s 5th student apprentice, and the first female one. She loved the job, even though she was the only female on the apprentice team. She said she felt accepted for who she was.
“Everyone was so friendly and willing to help teach me the tools and processes. It felt like a family,” she said. “I had very little prior coding experience, so the amount of knowledge and best practices that I learned in my two years at RoboSource was incredible.”
Since the computer science classes were difficult, Libby learned the value of hard work as a student. “Constantly feeling like I had to work hard in order to get good grades and appear equal to my peers has caused me to have a very strong work ethic,” she said. “I’m not afraid to get advice from an expert if that means I save a day of work.”
“I’ve learned that being the smartest person in the room isn’t the only thing that adds value to a project. Skills like executing and communicating and being friendly are just as important as coming up with good ideas themselves,” Libby said.
After graduation, Libby was easily able to transfer those lessons to working at a large local pharmaceutical drug company, where she now oversees the development and deployment for new websites for the company’s drugs. “My previous experience at RoboSource has helped give me insight and background for how websites are built from the inside out, so I can be a great resource for answering questions and influencing how functionality on sites should be built,” she said.
Family Away from Home: Natalia Fumero’s Story
Natalia Fumero’s family moved to Miami from Cuba when she was 15 years old. Life changed quickly, as her mother went from being her hometown’s doctor to studying to be a nurse in the USA.
As a safety measure, Natalia had grown up attending a Cuban music conservatory where she studied classical clarinet, but suddenly she found herself in an inner-city public high school that taught in an unfamiliar language. When dreams of attending Julliard didn’t pan out due to a paperwork snafu, Natalia’s once-promising future felt bleak.
Enter Indiana, and a small Midwest school that changed everything. DePauw University offered Natalia a scholarship to study classical clarinet, and she jumped at the chance, moving 1,200 miles away from family to rural Indiana. Once there, she realized another passion for technology, and started pursuing a second major in computer science. During her junior year, Natalia connected with RoboSource, securing a spot as a RoboSource apprentice for the the next year.
Natalia isn’t the kind of person to make excuses or let anything stand in the way of her dreams. When living with a RoboSource host family made it difficult to practice clarinet in the early mornings, she opted to practice in the RoboSource parking lot before starting work. Committed to pursuing body building, Natalia eschewed traditional developer fare of soda, pizza, and donuts, quietly snacking on broccoli at 10 am instead.
Over the summer, Natalia soaked up everything about working in a small technology business. She said, “RoboSource was by no means a ‘sit-and-watch’ internship. I have to be honest and say it was terrifying a lot of the time. But what made RoboSource special was big-hearted people to go with all that brain. I had unconditional support from my mentor and the team at all times and was able to tackle tasks I never saw myself doing.”
After summer, Natalia continued working for RoboSource remotely. Upon her May 2019 graduation from DePauw, Natalia was offered and accepted a job with Appirio, Inc as a Salesforce Technical Consultant. After a training period in Indianapolis, she moved back home to family in Miami, where she continues to work for Appirio remotely. Not long after, she took her first business trip to Chile to help implement Salesforce for a local nonprofit.
Even though Natalia now lives approximately 1,200 miles away from the little company that gave her her first programming job, we’ve stayed in touch and have enjoyed watching Natalia’s career evolve.
As she said, “The greatest thing I gained from RoboSource was a little family away from home.”
Jump-Start Your Career: Mireina Keith’s Story
Mireina Keith inspired us from the second we read her application. Though she was only 19 years old, Mireina had already co-founded a non-profit (She Can Tech) that focused on spiking girls’ interested in STEM areas. But during her summer with us, we learned that Mireina would inspire us in another way: by her constant optimism. Mireina found the good in everything, and looked for the learning experience in all she did. She kept the whole team up just a little higher.
Being raised in a single-parent household in Gary, Ind. was difficult at times. Money was tight, and her mother worked two jobs to provide for her two kids. But Mireina was blessed with many role models who pushed her to succeed, including her parents and a middle-school teacher that recommended her for a STEM camp that launched her passion for technology. Her grandpa encouraged her new passion, as it was one he held as well. He’s currently the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Gary. She says, “Growing up, we were always surrounded by technology, since he (grandpa) had his own startup called ‘Inner-City Computer and Consultants Inc.’ I remember going there after elementary school to hang out.”
During her freshman year, Mireina was chosen to be an EduSource apprentice, so she moved to Indianapolis for the summer. “Working at RoboSource at first was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. The team structure is amazing because you gain the experience of working on a team, but also gain individual experience and skills,” she said.
Like many young programmers, Mireina has overcome insecurities to get to where she is today. She said, “I learned through time that there will ALWAYS be someone out there with more knowledge than you, and that’s okay. The field is competitive, but it’s not a competition, because we are all learning more each day.”
Mireina feels like her time at RoboSource kick-started her career in many ways. “I gained four new computer languages, learned about different frameworks, and expanded my knowledge in frontend and backend programming. I had to refactor my entire resume to add in all the experience that I learned over the course of a summer,” she said. “RoboSource changed my life more than I can even explain.”
Though Mireina worked two jobs during her freshman year to help pay for school, she expects her sophomore year to look very different. “My confidence is sky-high!” she said. “Working a minimum-wage job after this is not even an option – I’m ready!”
Experience Brings Confidence: Dylan Mangold’s Story
When Dylan Mangold started college at Cedarville University, his family worried that wouldn’t survive well socially. “I’m a textbook introvert, and it showed,” he said.
Dylan points to RoboSource as key in helping him come out of his shell. When he started his first summer, he came to work on time and worked quietly and efficiently, but didn’t speak up much in meetings or in the office.
But when Dylan’s mentor got sick on the day of a client demo, RoboSource president Jason Beutler asked him to put on grown-up clothes and perform the demo. Dylan stepped up, and ran the demo like a pro, fielding client questions and making suggestions. After that, he was known as an apprentice that could handle client meetings. And his confidence soared.
Dylan said, “This is about the time I really began to succeed in school and professionally.” After his first summer at RoboSource, Dylan also made the decision to switch from a Computer Engineering degree to a Computer Science one, based on what he learned about himself through the apprenticeship.
“RoboSource was a big highlight of my time in college,” he said. When Dylan’s transportation became unreliable during his second summer and he wasn’t able to commute as expected, a RoboSource employee opened up his home to Dylan for the summer.
“I am incredibly thankful for the people that invested their time both professionally and personally to teach me and grow me as a software engineer. I know these are people that genuinely cared about the growth of the next generation of developers,” he said.
When Dylan graduated from Cedarville University in May 2019, he became the first member of his immediate family to complete a bachelor’s degree. He transitioned immediately into work as a software consultant for a firm based in Columbus, OH. He’s also working on a side project that will benefit churches and allow them to better manage their facilities and membership.
But Dylan still participates in the RoboSource alumni fantasy football team, and you’ll occasionally see him engaging in good-natured ribbing on the RoboSource network Slack channel. “The relationships that came from my time at RoboSource continued even after moving on to new things,” he said.
One Dream Can Lead to Another: Maddie Pleninger’s Story
“If someone would have told 12-year-old Maddie that I would be working as a software engineer, I would have told them that they were wrong. I was going to be a meteorologist,” Maddie Pleninger said.
When Maddie was in middle school, a TV show called “Storm Chasers” caught her interest, and she started dreaming about becoming a meteorologist. She had ideas that she could learn about weather and figure out better structure plans that would withstand tornadoes and other natural disasters. That dream led Maddie to Valparaiso University to study Meteorology, where she got to go on three different storm chases and also where she took a class called Weather Technology. The class’ final project involved making a website, which Maddie volunteered to take on.
What Maddie learned from that project was that she loved working on websites. Eventually, that led Maddie to transfer to Anderson University where she completed degrees in Computer Science and Math.
Since Maddie came into the technology game later, she had to overcome feelings of inferiority. “Sophomore year, I learned very quickly that computer languages did not come naturally to me, and I had to work super hard to understand them,” she said. “I felt like since coding did not come naturally to me that I was not as good as others and wasn’t educated enough to be in the industry.”
After her junior year at Anderson, Maddie applied and was chosen as a RoboSource apprentice. “I killed the group interview,” she says. She did. We saw raw talent and leadership skills in Maddie, even though her experience wasn’t as tight as some other applicants. At RoboSource, Maddie got the chance to learn more about front-end development, which she quickly discovered as another passion area. “I want to take my career in that direction,” Maddie said.
“RoboSource’s unique environment allowed me and the other apprentices to figure things out for ourselves while encouraging us to ask questions when we got stuck,” Maddie said. “Thanks to my apprenticeship at RoboSource, I was able to gain more confidence in my abilities and feel like I belong in the technology industry.”
Maddie graduated in May of 2019, and now works at Ontario Systems as a software engineer. In her spare time, she volunteers with the youth at church and has, as she says, “the same hobbies as an 80-year-old grandma: cross stitching, reading, baking, and going to bed early.”
Impress with Resourcefulness: Jonny Taylor’s Story
When Jonny was applying to be an apprentice, he came to RoboSource for his group interview session. While he was there, I asked him: “Do you go by Jon or Jonathan?” At the time, we had four “Johns,” so the question was relevant. “We may have to come up with a nickname for you.”
“My friends call me Jonny,” he replied. “Well,” I said, “we will become friends.” So Jonny it was.
Jonny was excited to work for RoboSource, but he needed to make some decent money for the summer so when a group of apprentices invited him to live in an apartment with them, he turned them down. And then he went to the local churches, asking if anyone was willing to host a student for the summer. He found an older couple that was happy to take him in, and he lived with them for two straight summers, finding new adopted grandparents.
That’s the thing that impressed us most about Jonny: his resourcefulness. He didn’t come to us with problems until he had turned over every rock, searching for a solution. This probably came from his childhood in rural Wisconsin, where Jonny grew up in the great outdoors, exploring the world at a Christian summer camp where his dad was the maintenance manager. “Much of my early childhood was spent romping around in the woods, building stick forts, and climbing trees with the camp director’s sons,” he said.
When he developed an interest in computers, he taught himself how to program them, and eventually found his way to Cedarville University, where he studied Computer Science.
After the group interview during his sophomore year, Jonny accepted an apprenticeship offer. “RoboSource held me and the other apprentices to high expectations, giving us real project responsibilities after two days of hands-on training,” Jonny said. “I got to work alongside engineers and managers who promoted high-quality software craftsmanship without turning the quality control process into an onerous chore. I was encouraged to take pride in my work.”
Jonny spent two summers at RoboSource and continued working for the company during his times back at school. “Working remotely during the school year taught me to manage responsibilities in a way that studying and socializing alone could not,” he said.
After graduation, Jonny accepted a job as an associate software engineer for Northrop Grumman in the Cincinnati area. “I came away from my apprenticeship with a love for writing good code,” he said.