Kashawna Brantley has always been interested in technology, but it wasn’t until after she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in the IT sector instead.

“I just didn’t know where to start,” she said.

After trying out a few jobs in education, the South Shore resident attended a resource fair where she learned about an IT bootcamp at i.c.stars. Through that bootcamp, she was introduced to the Aon apprenticeship program—an opportunity that would allow her to earn on-the-job training, a salary, and benefits from the company, as well as an associate degree from City Colleges of Chicago tuition-free. Realizing it would be a great chance to get her start, she applied and officially began her apprenticeship in January 2019, bringing her one step closer to a career in the IT industry.

Through the program, Kashawna and her fellow apprentices split 40 hours per week between work and class time. The cohort took courses together at Harold Washington College that complemented the skills they were learning on-the-job at Aon.

“The education I received really helped me understand my role within the company and my team,” Kashawna said.

Additionally, Kashawna found it helpful that her professors “were active in the fields they were teaching in.” For example, in her insurance class, her professor had worked in the insurance industry for decades; in her class about business law, the professor was a practicing contracts lawyer.

At the end of her two-year apprenticeship, just before her graduation from Harold Washington College, Kashawna was offered a full-time position at Aon, a company she continues to see herself growing with. As a Robot Process Automation (RPA) developer, she helps to create tools that simplify labor-intensive manual processes for her colleagues.

In her role, Kashawna is helping others grow, too. Currently, she is co-leading an affinity group for women apprentices at Aon, through which she helps members find their footing and access the resources they need to thrive in their roles. She knows first-hand what it’s like to navigate the program and wants to ensure others have the opportunity to succeed just like she did.

“It’s a challenging but very rewarding experience that makes way for a lot of opportunities,” Kashawna said.

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