Chicago Guild

What will you do in Guild?

You’ll take on a problem in society that means something to you.

You’ll meet new people (over Zoom!).

You’ll find that you can build an app — no experience required.

In five days, Guild will teach you about technology in a way that matters.

We identify a problem that is important to people in Chicago — food insecurity — and we work together (in teams of creative women just like you!) to brainstorm improvements for food banks, the families who need them, and communities across the city.

Then, we see how those solutions can be achieved with technology.

Guild teams bring their plans to life using a program called App Lab, which makes building an app accessible even to beginners. (Check out recent examples here, here, here, and here.)

Who should apply?

You should! Guild is open to women (cis and trans) and nonbinary individuals who are freshmen and sophomores at UIC or students in Chicago-area community colleges. You can be enrolled in any major or minor — or have not even decided on a major yet.

If you are curious about technology and coding, and if you want to join a supportive community of women who are also exploring tech, Guild may be for you. We will post a link here when we start accepting applications for our next program, which will run from August 16 to 20, 2021.

In the meantime, visit our Students page, fill in the “Get Involved” form, and we’ll get in touch.

How does Guild benefit you?

Participating in Guild requires five days out of your schedule. But they could be the five days that put you on course toward a rewarding job.

If you like this world of technology (which many Guild participants do!) we can help you take the next steps that can lead you toward a great tech job.

Consider this: the median base salary for an iOS app developer in Chicago is $101,181, according to Built in Chicago.

Every one of these app developers had to start somewhere. Maybe you start in Guild.

So you’re interested. Here’s what’s next.

Participate at no cost!

Guild is free of charge!

In addition, we provide each participant with $250 after the conclusion of the program.

Virtual format for 2021

Break Through Tech Chicago, like all programs at the University of Illinois Chicago, follows guidelines issued by the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, and the university to maintain the health and safety of participants and staff. For this reason, Guild sessions will be held virtually for now.

Equipment needed

All you need to participate in Guild is a laptop and an Internet connection, both of which we can provide on loan if you need it.

Schedule and topics

Guild sessions run Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm. During part of each day, we will spend time exploring answers to these questions: 

  • Community-building: With so much work and study being online, how can we make meaningful connections to others?
  • Design thinking: How can we work with others to understand and work on solutions to real-world problems?
  • Programming: How do I use programming tools to get user input, process data, and provide meaningful output?
  • Careers: What do industry professionals advise in their roles as mentors? What do computer science jobs look like?
  • Study: What are the next steps for me to explore a career in tech at my current school? What is the pathway to graduate with a major or minor in computer science from UIC?

Program dates and application instructions

Summer Guild will be held from August 16 to 20, 2021. We will post the application link on this page when it becomes available.

Questions? Email Elena Lathos at

Meet your TAs!

Teaching assistants are UIC undergraduate students who will help support and encourage you as you dive into Guild. Meet a few of our amazing TAs below.


My name is Mallika, and I am a junior at the University of Illinois Chicago, majoring in computer science. At UIC, I play a leadership role in organizations such as the Society of  Women Engineers and Women in Computer Science, where I have met other amazing women in computer science. I have a special interest in software engineering, mobile applications, and cybersecurity.


Hi everyone! My name is Arpita, and I am a senior majoring in computer science with a minor in finance. I am co-president of Women in Computer Science. It’s really empowering to play a role in bridging the gender gap of women in tech. Ever since we’ve been remote, I’ve developed interest in biking. I’ve been able to bike 13 miles in one stretch! I look forward to meeting you all.


Hi! My name is Grace, and I’m a second-year computer science student at UIC. I grew up in Michigan and moved here to Chicago for school. I’m really interested in natural language processing, which is the intersection of natural human language and computers, mainly because I’m really passionate about both computer science and linguistics. Outside of CS, I love doing photography and learning different languages and cultures!


My name is Pooja, and I am a senior at UIC studying computer science! One of my biggest passions is empowering women to pursue computer science and engineering. I’m the vice president of Women in Computer Science and Society of Women Engineers and a student mentor for the Girls Who Code club, where every Saturday morning, I co-instruct a web development class of 10 high school girls. Outside of school, I love embroidery, which is a new hobby I learned during quarantine, and photography! Check out my photography website:


I am a senior pursuing a BS in computer science. I am a first-generation college student, born and raised in Chicago. In addition to being a TA for Break Through Tech, I am a teaching assistant for the Programming Design II course at UIC. I was directly involved in the founding of the Latinx Organization for Growth in Computing and Academics (LOGiCA) and served as the secretary and treasurer before becoming co-president. I have an interest in mobile development and enjoy dancing as a hobby. 


Hi everyone! I’m Nimeesha, I’m a CS major, and I’m graduating this spring, yay! I am interested in anything related to medicine, healthcare, and technology. I want to be a doctor and use machine learning to gain new insights from our medical and healthcare data to improve the quality of patient care and treatment of chronic diseases. I love spending time with family, playing golf, reading, and listening to music. I am so excited to meet you all!