Sherronda Booker

Sherronda Booker

“2020, after volunteering at my children’s school for so long, I was offered a job in the lunchroom. I think the wage was maybe $13 an hour. I am also a licensed cosmetologist who was not actively doing hair because I was more focused on raising my three children.”

“$13-an-hour was not enough to live off. I was receiving SNAP benefits and driving an unreliable vehicle. I also used energy assistance programs to help out.”

“During the height of COVID, when we were quarantined, I signed my son up for this program called Dream Hustle Code. I figured somebody in this house needed to learn technology because this is the technology age.”

“While he was in that program, I started getting Facebook ads for i.c.stars, an adult technology program that was looking for applicants. And I thought maybe I should do this to be a mentor to him.”

“I called some friends who were familiar with the program and asked if I should join, and they said, ‘Yeah, girl. It’ll change your life.’”

“Because we were quarantined, I wasn’t doing anything else and decided to go ahead and join. It’s a very intensive program. It’s four months long. Monday through Friday. Twelve hours a day. You are not only learning technology, but you’re developing your business and leadership skills as well. It’s a well-rounded program.”

“Technology is a wide industry and there’s so much you’re exposed to in the program that your path can go any way. I picked up on the business and leadership side of it within the tech industry rather than like a software developer.”

“One of our assignments was to create a presentation on our project and invite people from the community. I invited this woman I had met in my community who ran a group called Black Cornerstones. After the presentation, she told me she was looking for someone who knew tech and she offered me a role.”

“It was a three-month contract as organizing director where I had a chance to learn how to organize people, money and resources. I’m so proud of the work I did there, including leading the John Lewis National Voting Rights Action Day Caravan.”

“After that I went into a fellowship at a company called Relativity. They did electronic discovery, which is retrieving evidence from computers and organizing it for courts and lawyers to use.“

“After the fellowship, my pay went up to $50,000. I would say that that is average entry-level pay for an i.c.stars graduate.”

“I am now back at i.c.stars as a candidate assessment associate. I’m no longer on SNAP, I have a more reliable vehicle and I have been able to provide my children with the freedom to be kids. Before, when I asked them what they wanted for Christmas they would answer with what they though I could afford as opposed to dreaming big and wishing for the stars.”

“I feel that i.c.stars is a program for us living in underserved communities. It is an opportunity at getting on a trajectory towards economic stability without a financial commitment.”

“I see a lot of people who want to get into tech but maybe they can’t afford college. Some have gone through college and they’ve accumulated student loans but they realize their degree is not even what they wanted to do. We get a lot of service industry applicants, restaurant servers or bartenders.”

“At i.c.stars we believe that by creating technologists, we help them build financial stability which will allow them the peace of mind to be able to focus on creating solutions to some of the challenges we face in our communities, and eventually we can start to create solutions to make the world a better place.”

Sherronda Booker
Candidate Assessment Associate, i.c.stars
Chicago, Illinois

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