Taking Chances: Rylee's Xtern Story

Rylee discusses her experiences applying for the Xtern program, being selected as an Xtern, and working for Blackink IT.

Written by Rylee Miller

Applying to the Xtern Program

When I was introduced to the Xtern program from the Ball State career center, I knew it would be a difficult challenge ahead. I had recently changed my major, I had little experience in the IT industry, and the acceptance rate was competitive. I applied anyway – it didn’t hurt to try.  

As the acceptances kept coming to my inbox with email after email from TechPoint stating “You’re moving to the next round,” I faced one of the final steps, the work sample assessment. I chose data analytics and IT/networking. I sat in my apartment tackling these prompts, but quickly realized I would not complete data analytics in time. Instead, I chose to shift my focus to IT/networking because the prompt sounded interesting – creating a network topology in Visio. What was that? I had no idea what a network topology was. I Googled for hours trying to learn. Finally, I submitted my sample.

The final email hit me in a few weeks. I was accepted to interview with four companies. As I entered the finalist day, I stayed open to each company and asked questions. My third interview was with a company called Blackink IT. As I entered the virtual meeting, I immediately felt comfortable; it felt like they cared about me as a person, not just a potential employee. They asked me questions about who I was and what my goals were, which was refreshing. I was excited to discuss something that caught my eye when researching the company – their mascot, Bubbles, representing the multi-faceted IT field. After the interview, I ranked them #1.  

That night, I got the call. Blackink IT wanted me! I was so excited and proud that I had not only made it through the rigorous interview process with TechPoint but had also received an offer from my top choice. As I look back now on that moment, I understand the importance of taking a leap of faith, even if the chance of success seemed slim.

Working at Blackink IT

From my first day to now, I have learned so much about IT and have met so many great people. At Blackink IT, I have always been trusted with the same responsibilities as full-time staff, which has given me the opportunity to make mistakes, learn, and grow. I have been able to travel to client sites with others and help our clients get back to work. To me, this was not just an internship; this was the first step towards starting my career.

There were also many opportunities to change lives. One project I worked on with my colleagues was to set up the network for Providence Cristo Rey’s new high school, a school which empowers students to learn and have access to corporate experience. The new building was an upgrade from their previous location, including a large gym, cafeteria, and improved workspaces. I was grateful to be a part of this effort, and I cannot wait to see the influence on the students.  

Experience as an Xtern

However, my summer has not only focused on my 8-5. The Xtern program has connected me with great people from all over the world who have become my friends. From these friends, I have learned cultural differences between the United States and countries like China, Spain, India, and more. This has broadened my knowledge of the world and allowed me to try new things. We have worked together during community service, had fun together during events like the Indians game, and learned together throughout professional development programming.

In short, the Xtern program and Blackink IT have offered me opportunities to change my life and the lives of others. I am extremely grateful for the chance to live in Indy and to make a true difference in my home state of Indiana. I am so glad I took a leap of faith that day.