There were 15 weeks in the fall semester and in that time, Brandon Long traveled to almost as many cities.
“This whole semester was hectic, he said. “I interviewed with about 27 companies, and I have had nine offers for internships, so far.”
A junior majoring in computer science, Long has already accepted a cooperative learning experience with Sam’s Club at the company headquarters in Arkansas for the fall 2017 semester. Selected as one of three Apple HBCU Scholars for A&T, he will spend this summer in California participating in a paid summer internship and receive funding for his senior year.
“That comes with a $25,000 scholarship, and that would mean I wouldn't have to pay for my senior year out of pocket,” he said of the internship, which is supported by Apple and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The Stone Mountain, Georgia, native came to North Carolina A&T State University for two reasons: He wanted to study computer science at a historically black college or university (HBCU), and he wanted to be a part of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine.
“Since I was in the fourth grade, I wanted to be an architect. In my senior year of high school, I learned how computer science enhanced architecture and every other industry,” he said. “With that in mind and a passion for problem solving, I decided I should study computer science in college, and I have loved it ever since.”
Long also participated in the marching band his freshman and sophomore years. That is where he learned the necessary time management to participate in band and still maintain good grades.
His ability to balance extracurricular activities with academics led him to an internship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Cape Canaveral, Florida, after his freshman year and a co-op with Oracle in Morrisville, North Carolina.
All of those experiences helped Long to prepare for participation in Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Summit BE Smart Hackathon. Along with fellow computer science students Angelica Willis, Ashana Evans and Jean Beya, he traveled to Silicon Valley, where they emerged as the winners for their in-car, infotainment mobile application, “Let’s Go Black: Where Culture Meets Adventure One Road at a Time.”
Their focus was to develop a mobile application that met a list of specific requirements for usage within a vehicle. The app had to aid in providing a value-added driver and passenger experience.
“That was my fifth hack-a-thon for the 2016 calendar year, and each competition seemed to improve my skills. This was a great opportunity because we were a full Aggie team,” he said. “I had never worked with them on any group projects before, but I knew how good they were, so I was looking forward to it.”
The team from A&T was the only one to complete and present the full demo and slide deck. The process seemed unorganized and not very straight forward.
“Although things started off a bit shaky, we were still able to work together and make it happen,” he said.
Had he made the decision to attend college at another school, Long is convinced he would not have been able to have so many diverse experiences and opportunities.
“A lot of my friends from high school went to (predominately white institutions), and hardly any of them have even thought about pursuing an internship,” he said. “My peers and professors provide the best environment to succeed, and that explains why A&T has the No. 1 computer science program among all HBCUs.”
Long expects to graduate in May 2018 and would like to start his own artificial intelligence company. Before he does that, he plans to earn a master’s in computer science and in business administration.