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Big Chicago companies recruiting City Colleges students as apprentices

Big Chicago companies recruiting City Colleges students as apprentices
Big Chicago companies recruiting City Colleges students as apprentices 02:00

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As college students head back to class, some in Chicago are headed to the office as part of the Chicago Apprentice Network, a program that recruits talented students at community colleges for some of the city's most prestigious companies.

A new class of recruits starts in just weeks. The program started in 2016 after a conversation with former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

To Julia Calderon, working at IT services and consulting firm Accenture is a dream job.

"I am actually [an] application development support senior analyst," she said.

That means she helps clients use technology to run their businesses. But it took more than just smarts and drive for her to get here.

While getting her associate's degree in computer science at one of the City Colleges of Chicago, she joined the Chicago Apprentice Network program, and became an apprentice at Accenture.

"I was able to acquire the training and skills needed to build a successful career in software engineering," she said.

The program traces its roots to 2016, after a conversation Emanuel had with an Accenture executive. Beth Marrion runs their program now.

"We weren't tapping into this incredible talent pool. If you looked at the big companies in Chicago, how many of them were actually recruiting from City Colleges? And it was very few, and so we thought that needs to change," Marrion said.

The network soon expanded, and now dozens of Chicago companies hire apprentices from the City Colleges of Chicago, and other community colleges and educational programs.

Thousands of people have started their careers with the program, like Calderon.

"I've been able to accomplish so much. Thanks to the apprenticeship program, I've been able to change my life," Calderon said.

The Chicago Apprenticeship Network hires people throughout the year. The City Colleges of Chicago often have recruiting events. There's more information on getting involved on the Chicago Apprentice Network website.

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