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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Blog Post

Offering an alternate path to an IT career

October 12, 2017

An IT manager at our company was musing about his career path one day.

A college education had never appealed to him, he said, so didn’t pursue a four-year degree. Instead, he had gained his computer science knowledge on the job. Stints at several different companies had given him the chance to learn multiple programming languages and development methodologies while also earning a good wage.

As he gained more technical skill, he also had the chance to take on supervisory and management roles. He was grateful for the chances he’d had to learn while working but wondered what opportunity there could be today for someone like him who doesn’t want to attend college for four years. Or for someone lacking any resources to attend college.

He believed that today’s youth could never get a chance like he had. After all, he said, so many IT jobs require a four-year degree and experience.

How many kids get that, especially with the high cost of college tuition?

One option that’s open to some of today’s youth is a workforce development program like i.c. stars, based in Chicago.

This program is a rigorous technology-based workforce development and leadership training program for low-income adults, developing Chicagoland’s most promising information technology talent with leadership goals and connecting them with careers.

It’s highly selective. Only 20 finalists are admitted to each i.c. stars class out of the 400 who apply each year.

Once they’re in, students participate in an intense 16-week internship before entering a two-year residency program. The program has an initial placement rate of 90% and an industry retention rate of 81% for its graduates. And they earn some bucks: On average, the average yearly salary for i.c. stars graduates is $57,240.

The students gain valuable skills and experience. The IT industry gains technically skilled employees in half the time a college education takes.

All of those factors went into the LRS decision to sponsor i.c. stars as an annual sponsor. Our partnership includes providing our technical recruiters as mentors to help i.c. stars students with skills such as resume writing and interviewing.

When LRS announced its partnership with i.c. stars, Greg Matthews, Vice President, called the arrangement a “good fit” for the company. And more.

“This gives us a way to give back to the community with what we do best, technology,” he said. “I’m excited about how i.c. stars, and organizations like it, are helping develop much needed technical talent for the future.”

Just maybe it will be the first step on the path toward a career comparable to our IT manager. After all, he just needed a chance to learn and earn, which is what i.c. stars offers.

That’s exactly why we’re a partner.

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