Hidden Genius Alum David Armstrong, Jr. strongly identifies as someone who embodies persistence. “If I don’t understand something on the first try, or it takes me a while,” says David, I’m really persistent to learn it.” His participation in our inaugural Intensive Immersion Program cohort (OAK1) – which evolved from an 8-week program into a 24-month commitment during that pilot year – and his patience to learn an entirely new set of skills, are a testament to his persistence. “When I joined The Hidden Genius Project four years ago, it was challenging for me to understand the benefit of the program initially. Once I completed the program and decided to enroll in college to study Computer Information Systems, it all made sense.”
Leadership, coding languages, and project management are all high on the list of what David is grateful to have gained throughout his experience. “The majority of the skills that I need to develop at this juncture in my life, I was able to learn from the team of Hidden Genius mentors,” says David. Many of these skills were nurtured through the real-life work that he and his fellow Geniuses participated in. David’s cohort prototyped “Crave No More,” a food app that allows users to input their favorite foods and dietary restrictions in order to recommend a dish within the immediate location from a local restaurant. The opportunity to work in collaboration with his peers, along with feeling more confident understanding the ins and outs of computers, whet his appetite to pursue a career in the tech field.
“Once I discussed my interests and passion for Cyber Security,” says David, “The Hidden Genius Project connected me with a major company who hired me to support their Data Security team as an intern.” After graduating from the program, Executive Director Brandon Nicholson introduced David to a contact at CBS Interactive, an online division of CBS and a content network for information and entertainment, covering news, sports, entertainment, technology, and business. David secured a position as a data security intern with CBS Interactive last summer, and will return this summer to do the same. “Getting my foot in the door, gaining experience in the technology corporate world is a huge benefit,” says David. “As I continue to strive towards my goal of becoming a Security Engineer, The Hidden Genius Project team maintains a high level of commitment to my success.”
Now entering his junior year at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, where he transferred after completing his first year at Chabot College in Hayward, David is majoring in Business with a focus on Computer Information Systems. He’s committed to pursuing a career in cybersecurity, though he’s still figuring out which particular part of the field he’ll head into. He credits his time with The Hidden Genius Project for this clarity about career focus, and for developing in him some of the key skills he’s needed to succeed in college.
David continues to remain in touch with staff and peers from his cohort, and has been instrumental in setting up field trips to CBS Interactive for our most recent cohorts, providing demonstrations about hacking, network security, and insights from his internship experience. Looking forward, David says he would like to continue giving back as a mentor and resource for future Geniuses. “In the ways that the staff at The Hidden Genius Project have helped me throughout the years with connections and advice, I would love to offer that same support to the upcoming Hidden Geniuses.”