It’s Working

It’s Working

skastrul's picture

This has been an amazing year of growth at i.c.stars. We had 100% placement of our interns, and many alumni have found new positions or were promoted at their companies. We have also been doing a lot of hiring internally, and our staff is larger than it has ever been. This year, we experienced the largest turnout of CIOs at our events, an indication that we are strengthening our CIO network.

All of this growth is great, and I could talk for hours about how it feels to see it happening. But what really strikes me is the increased level of engagement. We are engaging our interns, the network and community leaders in something bigger than just a job, a system, or a program. Change is all about engagement. We are looking forward to the coming year because we will not only leverage the network, the interns, and the alumni, but we will reach beyond our borders. We are expanding beyond what we know and are accustomed to for scale, impact, and (of course), change.

Change is hard; this is how we know it is working. Our Cycle 24 interns are on the cusp of their commencement into the residency. One of them presented her gift to the cycle this morning. It was supposed to be a hardware demo, and each member of i.c.stars, including the staff, was part of the demo. I think it was hard for her to figure out how we all truly work together and what each person’s unique gifts are inside the CPU. She labeled everyone. I was, of course, the motherboard. But she had a hard time describing how all the parts interact and what the special gifts each person, or each function brought to the machine. I think this was because when we are on the brink of change, we stop being descriptive after we able to categorize things. Sometimes that is as far as we get. We just put things in buckets and create categories. That is when we get overwhelmed. Sitting in front of us are all these categories, and we may understand how things work independently, but sometimes struggle with understanding interdependence.

What is clear to me about 2012 is our interdependence. We need each other as organizations, as social service entities, and as human beings. We all have unique gifts and talents, and we need each other to fuel this ecosystem of change. It is hard, and as we get more clarity, the more we can apply our gifts, talents, and resources to a bigger process or processor (geek laugh).

In order for us to really be developers, programmers, and leaders, we have to realize what makes up the foundation on which we stand. We have to know what we stand for. We are in a world where technology training runs the gamut among hardware, software, and engineering. We are in the business of training people for knowledge work, and we are constantly bombarded with messages of lowered expectations. I believe firmly in my heart and in my head that understanding the interconnectedness and the platform that we stand on allows us to take that leap into Information Technology. Again, the resilience, critical thinking skills, and problem solving abilities of those of us who have overcome adversity make us the perfect solution builders for the next apps, the next mobile technologies, and the next systems of change. When we recognize that they are interconnected, we can become the innovators instead of just the consumers. So geek out you eggheads, and remember that we are all connected.

About Sandee

Sandee Kastrul's photo
I believe that the definition of leadership is making opportunities for others. I am a leadership geek and find that the richest opportunities for all of our futures lie in education. I am a believer in reciprocity in education and that as educators we are both teacher and student. I believe that the world can be a classroom if we open ourselves to the notion that application, concatenation and liberation start with listening. Schedule Sandee to Speak

About i.c.stars

i.c.stars is a non-profit organization in Chicago for adults with a high school diploma or GED. Using project-based learning and full immersion teaching, i.c.stars provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. To learn more go to

A Measurable Impact

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