Chicago Tech Rocks Spotlight: i.c. stars

It seems crazy but we’re less than seven weeks away from the Chicago Tech Rocks and the evening just keeps getting better! With opening acts like The Locals, Good Night Criminals and Panic! At the Kernal, an internationally-known indie rock band headlining, and our generous sponsors, the night is guaranteed to be an amazing time. And above all else, we hope it's a night of celebration as we meet our goal of raising $300,000 for our beneficiary organizations.

Two weeks ago we introduced you to our first beneficiary organization, Year Up Chicago! Today, we want to shine the spotlight on another incredible organization that is doing HUGE things for the Chicago tech community; a round of applause for i.c.stars!

What is i.c. stars?

i.c.stars is a workforce development organization and social enterprise. The organization finds talent, trains talent, and puts talent to work. Since 1999, i.c.stars has developed change-driven individuals to excel in technology careers and effect change as community leaders.

Find talent, train talent & put talent to work

i.c.stars is highly selective. Out of 400 hundred candidates for every class, the organization selects only 20, following a 24 hour finalist candidate interview process. And, if you think they only take the most promising or top candidates, you’re wrong! There’s much more to their selection process. They look for individuals who have overcome serious adversity and have developed the highest levels of resilience, a passion for technology, problem-solving aptitude, and motivation to help others.

i.c.stars attracts candidates through partnerships and outreach programs with job training organizations, Chicago Public Schools, The Alternative Schools network, various community job fairs and news media.

After participants are vetted and selected, the fun really starts! Using project-based learning, participants work in teams during an intensive training course and two year practicum. 300 learning objectives wrapped around one main “client” project, and divided into three “Sprints” and a career readiness month. Over the four months, each intern gains as much as 1,000 hours of hands-on practical business experience together with leadership and technology skills.

Additionally, ongoing training is provided to graduates over the two-year period. During that time, participants benefit from placement assistance, continuing professional development and counseling, networking and merit-based employment opportunities through their social enterprise. They can also launch their own business through i.c.stars’ new startup accelerator.

i.c.stars not only provides their participants the tools they need to succeed in a workplace, they foster employment opportunities by connecting companies with their graduates. Companies like Kraft, TTX, The PrivateBank, Microsoft, Federal Home Loan Bank and Northern Trust, among others, have all found i.c.stars graduates to be excellent additions to their teams.

Unique "extra curriculars"

Talk to anyone who works at i.c. stars or knows their interns and you immediately understand that the program is so much more than a two-year training program and immediate job placement. i.c.stars wants their graduates to have long-term goals and to give back to the community. A really cool, unique aspect of the program is the Dream Speech. Each intern must give a Dream Speech about their lives 20 years in the future, when they are CEOs and entrepreneurs and philanthropists and activists and senators and inspiration makers, because the most disruptive way to break the cycle of poverty is allowing everyone to dream big and work toward that dream.

Life after i.c. stars

As a result of i.c.stars, the annual earnings of inner-city young adults increases by more than 400% with jobs as front-end developers, quality assurance engineers, or business analysts at Fortune 500 companies.


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