Guild for employers

All about Guild

In this one-week program, students begin their exploration into computer science.

The goal is to provide an introductory tech experience around a relatable problem that students might face in their own communities. We explore the problem, brainstorm solutions, and then, most importantly, help students to see how those solutions can be achieved with technology.

Our participants are women (cis and trans) and nonbinary individuals who get to use their creativity and develop tech skills to solve a real-world problem, with guidance along the way from industry mentors. Partner organizations can get involved with Guild by creating a team of staff members who can serve as those mentors.


When is the next Guild opportunity?

Our next Guild will be held in August 2021. We are now accepting expressions of interest from organizations that would like to advance gender diversity in tech by providing staff volunteers. If you are interested in participating after reading this page, email Amita Shetty, director of Break Through Tech Chicago, at

What role do partner organizations play?

Partner organizations help Break Through Tech Chicago by pulling together teams of about 8 staff members who hold technical roles and have understanding of software development.

Each team of staff volunteers serves one group of Guild participants, so if your organization is able to provide, say, 16 or 24 volunteers, there is the potential to match your staff with two or three student groups.

This is an excellent opportunity to work directly with college students who are interested in learning more about technology and to increase awareness of your organization and its mission.

What time commitment is required?

Each member of your staff team is asked to give about 5 hours of their time across the five days the program runs. This usually is divided up into three blocks of 1.5 to 2 hours each, to make the experience manageable within each volunteer’s workday.

How much tech knowledge do the students have?

Guild participants typically are in their first or second year at UIC or a community college in the greater Chicago area. They may have no prior experience with computer science.

How does the program work?

We engage participants by giving them the design-thinking skills they need to approach a challenging social issue that has significance to them. Volunteers can inspire our participants by helping them to see ways to solve seemingly intractable problems through technology.

What kind of expertise do Guild volunteers need?

Guild volunteers utilize their technical backgrounds and experience — whatever those may be — to benefit the students. Their actual areas of expertise will vary from person to person.

Volunteers do not need to know the specific programming language we are using in Guild to be effective mentors to the students. In addition, volunteers do not need to know anything about the social or community issue that students are problem-solving in Guild. The instructors who teach Guild will have the knowledge needed to foster problem-solving and design thinking on the social issue at hand.

Is there a financial obligation to participate?

There is no financial obligation for Guild partners. Sponsoring a Guild allows your organization to contribute the gifts of time and expertise.

A laptop decorated with stickers relating to coding and the city of Chicago

I love that we have learned about how to make our own apps. All the TAs, volunteers, and professors have been really kind and knowledgeable.

Taria Reese
Participant, Summer Guild 2020