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Chicago school alums return for jobs

Graduates of Chicago Public Schools are returning to class—as tech experts who help teachers and staff with computer glitches.

The program, operated by the national nonprofit Genesys Works, helps high school students in Chicago, Houston and elsewhere gain technical training and skills to fill entry-level jobs once they graduate—at more than 200 corporations and school districts. The program includes eight weeks of technical and professional skills training during high school.

Once students graduate high school, they work a paid, year-long corporate internship. Chicago schools pay up to $15,000 per year for interns. And the interns receive college and career coaching along the way.

The interns are based at specific schools in Chicago, for example. Their tasks include fixing damaged hardware that is no longer under warranty. They also show teachers how to update software or how to use an app, says Jackie Passley-Ojikutu, director of technology and support at Chicago schools.

The interns, in turn, are learning key workplace skills when they interact and collaborate with adults, says Phillip DiBartolo, chief information technology officer at Chicago schools.

“It provides solid employment to our alumni and it comes at an amazing price point which is cheaper than hiring a full-time employee to take care of technology needs,” DiBartolo says. “And it’s a stepping stone to other careers for them.” For more information, visit genesysworks.org.