Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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August 19, 2016

Giving Opportunities To Students To Further Their Knowledge and Careers

By Stephanie Straka

ECSSIn its second year of operation, the Early College STEM School (ECSS) internship program, funded by a grant from the Chicago Workforce Funders Alliance, and enabled by CompTIA and its philanthropic arm, the /home">Creating IT Futures Foundation, allowed more than 100 students from seven Chicago Public Schools to gain paid, skills-based STEM internships. Working as an intermediary, CompTIA and Creating IT Futures connected 38 local employers with the students, vetting both sides and helping to structure rewarding internships.

Last week’s summer reception celebrated the progress and hard work that the students had gone through during their internships.

“The program is to connect high school students in a world of work, to prepare students for success,” stated Rukiya Curvey Johnson, Executive Director of STEM & Strategic Initiatives for Chicago Public Schools. “It is about how to apply knowledge and apply these skills to the future world.”

Chicago has five Early College STEM Schools (ECSS) [Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA), Corliss High School, Lake View High School, Michael Clark High School and Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy] that allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. The summer internship program included these five schools plus Marine Leadership Academy and Rickover Naval Academy. Work-based learning and business partnerships, like summer internships, help students relate their education to current business needs.

“I learned how to interact with people, with face–to-face and conference call communication,” said Jauron Morrison, a technical sales commuter channel intern with IBM. He joked, “Using all different calendars helped me work around my schedule and figure out when to take my lunch break! I learned how to manage my time more wisely.”

Eighty percent of the internships were technology-focused, from website consulting and networking to programming and digital media production.

“This internship taught me more about web builders and more about coding with websites,” said James Hampton, a summer intern at Dr. Truth’s Private Practice. “It is also really important knowing how to dress better and hold a conversation in a professional manner.”

Over the past two years, with the support of corporate partners and community organizations, Chicago Public Schools have provided over 200 internships for juniors and seniors through their Early College STEM Schools.

“The internships become a win-win for both students and employers. Students get real work experience in technology, and employers get valuable work done while giving back to their communities,” said Charles Eaton, CEO of the Creating IT Futures Foundation. “Our team developed the /researching-solutions/internship-models">4Ps of successful internships and several internship models, showing ways in which any employer can offer valuable internships like the ones with these Chicago students.”

“You got to see the magic from everyone that worked together,” said Curvey Johnson during her closing remarks. “We are all here to make sure our students are able to move forward to be creators and innovators.”

Creating IT Futures is actively looking for more businesses to step forward for this school year to help with mentoring, corporate visits, classroom projects and speaking opportunities. Interested businesses can learn more at

A short video summarizing the summer internship experience is available at:

Stephanie Straka is a social media intern at the Creating IT Futures Foundation.