In the fall of 2020, I tried out something new. I had heard about Forge (at the time named HackCville) from a couple of mutual friends, and they had extremely positive things to say, so I decided I wanted to get involved, and it’s one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.
Forge is a nonprofit school located on Elliewood Ave on the corner that teaches in-demand modern skills to students. It was created in 2012 by and for UVA students and since then has grown and evolved extensively. Forge has a wide variety of programs but its overarching goal as an organization is to provide a workspace and community of learning and collaboration for smart, driven students, as well as teaching courses and providing students with resources to help them get a head start on their career, develop a passion project, or get involved in the Charlottesville community by using their skills to make an impact.
Possibly the most popular program at Forge is their skills courses. Normally taught in person in Forge’s classroom spaces, their courses are taught by and for students in classes of around 15-30 people and generally meet once a week for two hours (with the expectation that students will commit some time during the week to course-related projects). The course topics vary greatly, and I can almost guarantee that every UVA student could benefit from at least one of Forge’s classes. Course topics include UX design, graphic design, digital marketing, web and app design, basic coding, software engineering, and data science, among others. Personally I’ve taken courses in both graphic design and digital marketing, and not only did I thoroughly enjoy each one, but also each one was able to open up a whole new host of opportunities for me in both personal and professional ways.
The other Forge program that I’d like to highly recommend is their “Launch” internship program. Through Launch, students have the opportunity to choose one of 4 tracks: software engineering, digital marketing, data science, and UX design. Over the course of the year, Forge’s team helps students to develop their resume and interview skills to prepare them to begin the company matching process at the beginning of the spring semester. Forge makes exclusive partnerships with a wide variety of companies to ensure that students are working on real impactful projects in their internships, not just getting coffee for the boss. At the beginning of the summer, Forge trains each student within their individual track so that they have the skill set they need to excel in their upcoming internship. Then, students get to work with exciting companies in a PAID internship all summer. I’m currently enrolled in it the digital marketing track, and all I’ve really done so far is work through Forge’s resume workshops, but so far I can already tell how much I’m going to learn from this process, and I think everyone should consider giving it a shot if you’re looking for a summer internship. It’s not too late either! The last deadline to apply for this year’s program is January 28th, 2021. Go to https://joinforge.co/launch to learn more!
Forge has several other engaging programs that students can also benefit from; you can learn more at https://joinforge.co/programs
Overall, in my experiences with Forge, I’ve never been a part of any single other organization that I felt helped my personal and professional development more. They have incredible resources to offer and UVA students should definitely be taking advantage of them before it’s too late.