Guidance for students

Are you interested in technology? Does programming intrigue you? Are you wondering what coding’s all about? Maybe you like to play video games, have an eye for good web design, are a social-media master, or are just curious about how things work on the inside.

We have a place for you: Break Through Tech Chicago. We seek to prepare college women with the undergraduate education they need to move into rewarding, highly compensated tech jobs after they graduate from college. Our program is housed in the computer science department at the University of Illinois Chicago, in the heart of the vibrant, diverse, and fast-moving third largest city in the United States.

UIC CS graduate student Johnnalee Kutzke

What is right for you and what is expected of you are rarely the same thing. Instead of trying to find your passion or to fit someone’s narrative of what that means, know yourself, and follow what feels right.

Johnnalee Kutzke she/her
UIC graduate student and Break Through Tech Chicago team member

Questions and answers

Below are some the questions that students usually ask about participation in Break Through Tech Chicago programs. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, fill out our contact form to get in touch.

Whom is Break Through Tech Chicago programming for?

Our mission is to prepare more college women (cis and trans) and nonbinary individuals with the undergraduate education they need to get jobs in the tech world and succeed. We are especially interested in advancing Black, Latina, and Indigenous women who want to pursue careers in tech. While these are the audiences we serve with our programs, we always are happy to meet allies who support our work and would like to participate in other ways.

Do I need to be a UIC student?

Some Break Through Tech programming, such as our twice-a-year Guild program, is open to community college students as well as UIC students. Other programs, such as the UIC computer science course known as CS 111 and our three-week micro-internships called Sprinternships, are designed primarily for UIC students who have decided to move forward with either a major or minor in computer science or data science. Students who participate in Guild may apply to transfer to UIC to become a part of these opportunities.

Where can I find out more about the programs, and when do they take place?

  • Guild is held once in the summer (usually mid-August) and once in the winter (usually early January). Learn more on the Guild webpage.
  • CS 111, offered tuition-free through Break Through Tech Chicago, is held in UIC’s summer session 1, typically the third week of May through the second week of June. Find out more on the CS 111 page.
  • Sprinternships run for three weeks in May. Read about the experience on the Sprinternships page.

How does Break Through Tech Chicago help with career development?

We are planning a slate of career readiness programming that will provide students with targeted help at a range of stages. Some workshops are geared for students who have not yet held their first tech internship and are just starting out. Other workshops are for students who are nearing the end of their time in college and are ready to look for full-time positions. We also have a LinkedIn group and an email listserv that we use to communicate opportunities we receive from companies and organizations that are looking to diversify their workplaces by hiring more female and nonbinary staff members.

I completed a Break Through Tech Chicago program and am not sure what comes next. What should I do?

The Break Through Tech Chicago team can help you figure out how to use your program experience (whether it was Guild, CS 111, or a Sprinternship) as a building block toward a major or minor in a field such as computer science or data science, which can help to position you for well-paid, high-impact tech jobs. Email us at btt@uic.edu and let us know what’s on your mind. We will get back to you about the next steps you can take.