Unleashing Potential: The Power of Xchange Chicago Apprenticeships
In a dynamic city like Chicago, where innovation and opportunity converge, the Xchange Chicago initiative is at the forefront of transforming lives through the mighty...
In the last decade, there has been an increasing movement for the involvement of women in the STEM field. Women, especially women of color, tend to be the smallest demographic within technology. However, many people want to change that. Programs, like Girls Who Code and WAVE by Built By Girls, connect young girls to technology and mentors. Conferences, like Women in Tech, introduce female technicians to each other, explore potential employers, and create an accepting environment to learn. In this day, more and more resources are introduced to interest the future female generations of technicians. SDI Presence is part of this change.
At separate tech-focused College Career Fairs, SDI Presence met two ambitious students interested in technology, Maria Rojano and Yazmin Reyes. Both women were accepted into SDI’s 2018 Summer Internship program, which over its history has provided over 140 students with a first chance to participate as part of a professional IT workforce. Here are their reflections on this experience with the SDI Presence team:
Maria is studying Networking Systems and is working to create a student chapter ACM-W at Wilbur Wright College. She feels women are under-represented in this field, so this comes with the hope of enticing women into tech. The club will help provide guidance and mentorship to women who are thinking about a career in the tech field.
Yazmin Reyes is an upcoming sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She’s currently majoring in Computer Science. For Yazmin, she knows that technology is always changing and advancing. Technology has so many career paths and opportunities, and its challenge to adapt is why she wants a career in this field.
As Latinas, we both understand the importance of representation in the workforce. Having others to look up to sparks hope that they would be able to reach success as well. For both, representation becomes a driving ambition towards their career goals.
Knowing about our background in IT and our motivating determination, SDI Presence assigned the us to the firm’s cybersecurity team for the summer.
Over the course of the internship, we received several hands-on opportunities. Our main task, as cybersecurity interns, was to install SDI computers with the most recent security software. We learned about computer maintenance, and how essential it is to continuously maintain machines so they are protected at all times. Throughout this process, we were able to initiate cyber vulnerability assessments that included white hat testing to search for malicious activity, phishing testing, internal vulnerabilities scanning and more. Every machine within the company serves a different person for a different purpose, and we also received many chances to troubleshoot any machine issues as needed.
SDI Presence provided us with the opportunity to engage with the SDI team and see first-hand the degree to which cybersecurity impacts them as well. We traveled to different client locations throughout the Chicago area. We were also given the opportunity to work with one of SDI’s portfolio of clients, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
CTA provided one of the more adventurous projects for us. This required us to travel everywhere in the Chicago area. We worked as part of the on-site SDI Team to implement a major IT upgrade within their internal system. Like any other computer upgrade project, we had to know the ins and outs of the new setup. We also worked alongside SDI team members through the entire project. With their mentorship and guidance, we were able to complete the transition project in less than a week.
We want to instill hope for any other women, and for all Latinas interested within the STEM field. By sharing our experience, we hope that it may be the push needed for other girls to seek opportunities like those that SDI Presence provided. We hope to see more people with diverse backgrounds fall in love with technology work, as they see all the benefits that it can provide.
We are grateful for being able to meet such amazing and talented people throughout SDI. We were welcomed with friendliness, kindness, and guidance throughout the entire internship, and so we express our appreciation for this memorable experience.
Maria is excited about her future in tech. She is fortunate to be surrounded by creative and inspiring people, who help her go beyond her limits. She is passionate about promoting other women to be innovative and to do their best work because diversity is needed in terms of gender and ethnicity in this male-dominated industry. Her excitement about new technologies that impact the world keeps her motivated to continue to develop her skills in a field that is always evolving.
Yazmin aims to complete her Bachelor of Science degree at UIC and continue to explore the variety of opportunities that technology has to offer in her future. She is also interested in participating in programs that mentor young girls interested in engineering, because she strongly believes that representation matters. Although following through with any study in technology is not very easy, being a part of someone else’s journey to success is all she could ask for.