The Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, located in the Ashburn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, has partnered with the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce via CompTIA to launch a summer STEM Internship Program.

The program is designed to provide students with real life work experiences in the technology and business fields while providing assistance to small businesses that lack the budget or staff to address these areas on their own. Nicholas Braxton and Jarret Jiles spent the summer as interns at the Chicagoland Chamber working with SBDC clients in a variety of industries improve their websites and social media platforms.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other STEM students,” Braxton said. “My favorite part is the offsite work – getting out of the office, meeting with clients, seeing different businesses and workplaces. It is a lot of fun.”

The Goode STEM Academy is a newly created high school that specializes in STEM education and is dedicated to preparing its students for such in-demand jobs as software developers, mechanical engineers, food scientists, and forensic engineers. According to its website, Illinois will demand a total of 319,820 STEM jobs by 2018, up from 266,900 in 2008.

Jiles, who plans to eventually become a game developer specializing in programming and IT, said his schoolwork helped him prepare for the internship role.

“We learned about programming and building websites in school, and now we have been helping people launching new businesses to build simple, five-page websites for their companies,” Jiles said.

Both Braxton and Jiles said they plan to use the IT, web development and programming skills they have learned in school and implemented during this program to eventually pursue careers in the technology field.