By Chris Bavender
Managing a group of web designers, finding new clients and producing top-notch results – just part of a typical week for Isabella Penola. Except for one thing; Penola, president of the BitWise Fellows Program, is just 15-years-old.
“It’s not just a job, but real life business skills you can’t get anywhere else,” Penola, a Zionsville home-schooled sophomore, said. “It’s just an amazing experience that helps prepare you for a career.”
BitWise Fellows is a 7-year-old web development company run exclusively by high school students. It is part of Carmel-based BitWise Solutions, owned by Ron Brumbarger.
“We find the leads, go through the marketing, do the design, show it to the clients and then launch it – all on our own,” Penola explained.
Fellows typically stay with the company until graduation, and some have gone on to work for BitWise Solutions.
Penola was approached by Brumbarger about the position after getting to know him through a home schooling co-op.
“A friend and I helped him set up a tw-week seminar on the middle east and Islam, with speakers and visits to a couple of mosques,” she said. “He told me they had an opening and thought it would be something good for me to do.”
From 4-7 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday Penola worksat the BitWise office, overseeing the student staff.
“In school you don’t’ really learn to do invoices or write proposals or manage other people,” she said. “Working in that kind of environment just teaches you things you can’t really learn from reading books or sitting in a classroom. It’s hands on, and it’s awesome.”
A writer – she contributes to several political and historical blogs – Penola isn’t sure yet what her career plans are after college.
“I have always wanted to do something journalism or writing based, but I haven’t decided yet,” she said. “I’ll start to figure that out in the next year.”
But, for now, one thing is certain; Penola will continue to help grow the BitWise Fellows program.
“It’s just such an amazing opportunity, to be in charge of a whole company as a sophomore,” she said. “It’s amazing, and I am very thankful for it.”