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Internships Turn into Careers for City Colleges of Chicago IT Students

7/27/2017 12:00 AM

In 2016, Danica Lohja was one of the first City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) graduates to participate in an innovative program at Accenture (NYSE: ACN), where she gained and utilized valuable skills in information technology (IT). After successfully completing the one-year program, she and three other former interns are now full-time Accenture employees. Accenture has also hired eight new interns, doubling the size of its original City Colleges internship cohort.

Accenture extended full-time employment offers to four participants in its internship program, all four of whom are graduates of Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and the Center for Excellence in information technology education. After completing the one-year internship, they have accepted full-time positions in Accenture’s IT department located in downtown Chicago—Danica as an ecosystem product and services analyst, two of her colleagues as software engineering analysts and one as a software engineering associate.  

Through the relationship with CCC, Accenture provides City Colleges graduates with rotational internships within its internal technology team. These paid internships are designed to help students learn and implement a variety of IT solutions within the company’s dynamic global business environment. The internship program expanded in 2017 – with eight CCC graduates starting the program this summer, all from Wright College.  

“Through the College to Careers initiative, City Colleges students are being prepared for the rigors and realities of today’s workplaces – both in the classroom and through programs like Accenture’s IT internship,” said Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago. “The intern-to-employee model provides opportunities for our students to demonstrate their value and potential to employers.”  

Jim Coleman, Chicago Office Managing Director of Accenture, said: “Local apprenticeships like these ignite an interest in specific technology fields through hands-on experience, helping to build the pipeline needed to address the skills shortage faced by Chicago employers. We are so pleased to welcome our City Colleges graduates and interns to Accenture.”  

In 2016, City Colleges of Chicago announced a collaboration with Accenture to help enhance and shape the IT curriculum at City Colleges, as part of the community college system’s College to Careers initiative. All colleges in CCC offer IT courses. Wright College offers all degree programs and leads the system’s effort.  

College to Careers aligns each of the seven City Colleges with a high-demand career sector and connects faculty and staff with leading employers and four-year universities to prepare students for the tens of thousands of jobs coming to the Chicagoland region over the next decade, 24,000 of which are expected to be in IT.  

Wright College graduate Danica Lohja didn’t know what to expect when she began her internship at Accenture last year, but she was excited about the opportunity. “My classes and experience at Wright helped a lot in terms of improving my soft skills, problem solving and connecting with smart students and instructors – helping me feel confident about the internship,” Danica said. “I didn’t know what to expect joining such large organization with broad and complex business model. I just knew I made the right decision because I wanted to get my foot in the IT Industry, and based on my research, Accenture sounded like a perfect fit for me.”  

Danica earned an associate degree in Computer Information Systems at Wright with high honors in 2016. In addition to her full-time job at Accenture as an Ecosystem Product and Services Analyst, she is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Northeastern Illinois University.

Robert Kerby turned his computer hobby into a career and an opportunity for lifelong learning. He is now employed full-time at Accenture as a Software Engineering Associate. “Since IT changes all the time you have to keep learning and getting more experience,” he said.  

Upon starting his internship with Accenture last year, Robert’s goal was to be part of the team, learn as much as possible and gain more responsibilities. During his internship, Robert drew upon his experience from his IT classes at Wright College: “All of the struggling I did in classes to troubleshoot my problems helped me out. Also, you have to work as a team and since we worked in teams in my classes, that also prepared me,” Robert said.  

Robert says he looks forward to learning from and supporting his team in his full-time position as a Software Engineering Associate, where he will handle programming related tasks such as coding, testing and implementation. In addition to thriving in his new role, Robert is also considering pursuing his bachelor’s degree in IT.  

Rigoberto Velazquez recently transitioned from his internship to a full-time position as a Software Engineering Analyst with Accenture. “When I first decided I would pursue IT as a career, I felt it would be a long uphill battle. When I received this internship, I was beside myself with gratitude. Wright College has leveraged their relationship with a great company and provided me with an opportunity to start my career on a solid foundation,” Rigoberto said.

Wilbur Wright College is City Colleges’ Center of Excellence for IT, offering several associate degree and certificate programs in disciplines that include computer science, networking systems and technology, web development and more, as well as a full complement of associate degree programs leading to transfer and employment. City Colleges students may begin their IT studies at any of the seven City Colleges.Accenture 

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