Written by Zacch Estrada-Petersen
When Statesville native Israel Caines – better known as Izzy – first got to college, he was undecided on exactly what profession he wanted to pursue, but he still knew at least one thing he wanted out of a chosen career.
“Job security was important to me,” says Caines. “So I talked to my father and he was like, ‘The way things are going, you can’t go wrong in the technology field.’”
He took his father at his word. And the rest, as they say, was history.
“I didn’t have prior experience in programming,” he says. “So it made me a little hesitant. And even though people told me it was hard, I just went for it.”
Today, Caines is a senior computer science major with a focus on Graphics & Visualization, with commencement on the horizon. The next order of business after that – a full-time job.
“I’m into mobile apps,” he says. “So if I could get a job working with those, that would be ideal.”
Last summer, he interned at a private Global Trade Management Software company headquartered in Charlotte, and the chances are high he’ll find a permanent place there once he graduates this coming May.
As part of his internship, he created a software application to simplify the process for their accountants to enter in transactional data.
“I had to build an app where it made it easier for the accounting department to enter their information,” he says. “I also worked with the software development team, going back over some of the code they’d written and translating it to plain English, where someone who doesn’t have a technical background could understand it.”
Even though still a student, he still has some advice for other students considering pursuing the computer science field.
“The sooner you find out you want to go into the field, the better,” he says. “Get as much experience as you can; even outside of class. There’s a whole lot of information you can find on the internet to help, so get experience with lower-level programming languages and do your research and do your work. Bottom line, if you don’t put the time in to learn it, you won’t be successful at it.’
Until graduation, though, he’s focusing on finishing up his last semester of classes, which as a Black male in his major, can be a unique experience.
“You’ll go to class and there’s definitely not a whole lot of Black males, or even Black people, for that matter,” he says. “In that respect, it sometimes feels that you’re in the wrong place. A lot of people tell me I don’t look a computer science major, so I guess I don’t fit the mold. But my experience is that if you work hard, you can be successful.
The My Brother’s Keeper Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an endowment fund targeted to Black males majoring in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields at UNCC. The "What They See Is What They'll Be" blog series, adopted from the motto of 100 Black Men of America, is a bi-weekly blog series featuring personal stories of Black men from the UNCC community who are actively engaged in those fields. The goal of the series is to serve as a source of information and inspiration to others aspiring to follow similar career paths. To learn more, or to contribute to the endowment fund, visit www.unccmybrotherskeeper.org.