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Silicon Valley Internship Programme (SVIP) recently partnered with Girls in Tech to boost the number of female applicants for the initiative.
SVIP was founded by Michael Hughes and offers UK software engineering graduates one-year paid internships with technology startups in San Francisco.
Girls in Tech is a global non-profit organisation launched to empower women in technology and entrepreneurship.
The partnership aims to expose more female graduates to the possibility of applying for the internship.
Michael Hughes, co-CEO of LoopUp and founder of SVIP, explained how he set up the organisation: “I met with the British Ambassador to see what the startups in the Bay area can do to help those in the UK and to foster what’s happening in Silicon Valley.
“In Silicon Valley there is a willingness to pull to the trigger on an idea even if it is half-baked. The ecosystem there is willing to support and even fund.”
Hughes said he wanted to give software engineer graduates the opportunity to work in a startup for a year “to see how chaotic it is”.
“We had 170 applicants for the first year and 15 came over to work. Around 18 will join the programme in September 2015,” he said.
'Figuring out the second act'
Those chosen for the programme are supported in obtaining a visa and are paid a salary of $60,000 for the year.
He added: “We are also trying to figure out what to do with these people after the programme ends – how to help them build their own businesses. Getting onto the programme for a year is the easy bit, it’s how to get your own businesses started when you get back to the UK. We’re currently figuring out the second act.”
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Adriana Gascoigne, CEO and founder of Girls in Tech, said: “We want to drive excitement about Silicon Valley’s companies and expose engineers to Silicon Valley’s startups. It has been really useful to companies in Silicon Valley to be able to connect with this level of talent.
“We wanted to encourage more women to apply for the programme.”
She said the Californian startup scene has an atmosphere of enthusiasm which is why businesses are more likely to thrive there: “Everyone in the San Francisco startup up scene pulls up their sleeves and everyone respects everyone’s environment. All of the resources are there, so it’s easier to get a business off the ground but you need the right talent.
“I have worked at startups myself and it is so much fun, so I wanted to expose more women to that.”