|Thursday, July 14, 2016
From the President’s Desk: Chamber STEM Intern Success
School’s out for summer!
But not for some “rising seniors” and newly minted graduates from Chicago Public Schools. Theirs is a summer of work-based learning.
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Foundation are continuing a successful internship program that began last year with CompTIA, a leading voice for the IT industry, and CPS Early College STEM Schools, particularly those serving underprivileged neighborhoods.
This summer, we’ve placed 12 students in IT internships with business owners and entrepreneurs served by our Illinois Small Business Development Center. The Chamber Foundation, which focuses in part on workforce development, including youth employment, is paying the stipends for these interns, since these businesses are chiefly “start ups” and unable to afford the cost.
In this six-week program, students are applying what they’ve learned in the classroom, performing such tech tasks as building websites, creating digital multimedia presentations, and developing social media platforms.
Leonardo Caballero and Brianna Day are two such talented interns. Sited at the Chamber, because their clients lack a dedicated workspace outside of the home, both are from Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, which is located in Ashburn. Both are poised, focused, confident, and impressive.
Leonardo, who just graduated from Sarah Goode, will be attending Bradley University this fall as a computer science major—the first in his family ever to attend college. As an IT intern last summer, he worked as a game developer. This summer, his internship has him concentrating on website development.
Even in elementary school, Leonardo was interested in tech. “I like to explore and learn. I’m inspired by the people using technology to create new ideas, new things, new worlds.” He intends to hone his programming skills and aspires to develop the next innovative app.
His classmate returns to Sarah Goode this fall to finish her senior year. Upon graduation, Brianna has her sights set on majoring in criminal justice. Encouraged by her family, who highly value education, she intends to become an attorney. Her STEM program is helping to create a disciplined and analytical mind.
Her internship has her concentrating on websites and social media. “I’m encountering new information. There’s a bit of a learning curve,” Brianna reports, “but I just need to work hard to push through it.”
This is an exciting program not only for these students but also for our small businesses, which are located in communities across the city, from the South Side to the North Side, including Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, River North, and Rogers Park. Neighborhood students from neighborhood schools are helping and learning from neighborhood businesses. And the Chicagoland Chamber is there in the neighborhoods to support them.
It’s a win-win-win program! Students are gaining valuable employment experience, building an impressive resume, developing professional contacts, and sharpening their skills.
Businesses are receiving a needed IT resource and seeing the value in internships and work-based learning.
And the Chamber is serving our members across our many communities.
Win. Win. Win!
Theresa E. Mintle
President & CEO
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce