i.c.stars, a nonprofit that offers programs designed to develop inner-city community leaders with IT careers, is increasing the number of interns it takes on this year.
The number of paid internship opportunities for the four-month program will go from 24 to 40, and the eight-year-old program is poised to keep growing.
“Our interns are highly resilient people who have demonstrated leadership potential, so ultimately the vision is 1,000 community leaders by 2020,” said Sandee Kastrul, president and co-founder. “Our theory is that leadership creates opportunities for others, but what enables leaders is the social, financial and intellectual capital.”
Once a week, i.c.stars interns receive a visit from a local business or IT leader, who shares the story of how he or she got ahead in the business. The chance to meet and mingle with various IT professionals teaches the interns how to maximize the social aspects of life in IT.
But it’s still a meat-and-potatoes-type education that’s the backbone of i.c.stars’ internship program.
“From a business perspective, we have a lot of courses on finance, marketing, search engine optimization, and we work with an open-source content management system and .NET programming,” Kastrul said. “From a leadership perspective, there’s a lot of emphasis on communication and reciprocity.”
The interns also build a team Web site for a nonprofit, dream up and plan a fictional business and build a database-reporting system for large companies to keep track of their computers.
There are considerably more applicants than internship positions. And although the intensity of the program could be quite daunting, few participants have many complaints, as most are trying to make a better life.
“Everyone who comes through i.c.stars has gone through a 20-hour assessment process, has had four interviews, has done a battery of logic and critical-thinking skill tests, which ultimately helps them see the world as bigger than themselves,” Kastrul said. “Many of our interns have children, so they’re fighting for something other than themselves.”