ENGLEWOOD — Devin Buckley said his summer internship with the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation is getting him more interested in computer coding and website design.
“It has been a very good experience,” the 16-year-old Park Manor resident said.
Devin, who attends Simeon Career Academy, said his school has exposed him and his classmates to a free Web-based curriculum through Cisco Networking Academy, which introduces students to Information Technology, or IT. The goal is to expose young people to careers in IT such as network engineer, system administrator and cloud data center technician.
The curriculum puts them on the track for becoming certified in five different areas, and if they complete their final exam with at least a 75 percent score, they receive a voucher for 58 percent off their certification exam, which usually costs anywhere from $80-$200, presenters said.
The free virtual class can be instructor-led, but students can access the materials 24 hours a day. The stimulators keep down the costs because no equipment is required, said Clydene Stangvik, area manager for Cisco Networking Academy.
The early career path engagement is important, she said.
“We’re trying to reach out to the underserved in the inner city of Chicago,” said Stangvik, adding that technology-based jobs are increasing across the world.
Devin joined two other teens, Aaron Felton and Regis Luckett, in helping a business owner design her website. They got their opportunity through the Englewood Community Development Corporation, which opened its business accelerator on April 2. The space includes private offices, workshops, courses, technical assistance and more.
“We helped her put animated pictures on the website,” Devin said.
Aaron, 17, who attends Gage Park High School and lives in Chicago Lawn, said the internship is going well.
“It’s pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of great people here, a lot of people who work in this business and want to see our young African-American [youths] grow up and do great things.”
Regis, an Auburn Gresham resident and Simeon student, said his mother calls him a “computer genius.” Regis said he likes the learning experience he’s getting and the networking opportunity is invaluable.
One thing Regis likes about Cisco’s curriculum over the standard textbook style learning is that he retains the knowledge more.
“My teacher [used] a lot of slides, and we had to write a lot of stuff down,” he said. “By doing that, it [stayed in] my head because if I was just reading it or looking at it, I wouldn’t have remembered it.
On Tuesday, the development corporation held an informational session at its office, 815 W. 63rd St., where Stangvik put on a presentation for an audience of educators, investors, parents, city representatives and others.
Glen Fulton, the corporation's president, said he’s excited to be working with Cisco. Fulton said he wanted the presentation because he felt that parents and Englewood schools should know about the opportunity.
“It’s important because a lot of people, parents, they don’t really understand some of the IT opportunities that are out there from a job standpoint,” he said. “If we can teach them certification, coding or cyber security, these are going to give them opportunities to talk to their children.”
Fulton also said that his organization is partnering with Cisco to help Englewood students.
“They’re going to work through the Greater Englewood CDC and act as a liaison to students here in the Englewood community,” Fulton said, adding he wants Englewood to be the focus, but he’s also interested in going outside the community. The ultimate goal is to help young people get on the path to getting a job.
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