The Urban Apprenticeship is an exciting opportunity we offer Chicago Center alumni that have just graduated college. More than a job it offers opportunities for learning and skill development in a supportive urban learning community.
The apprenticeship started in 1990 and grew out of the mutual interests of Chicago Center alums to prolong their contact with Chicago Center and the Center’s interest in strengthening its staff and program. It has exceeded expectations in both arenas and has become a great strength of Chicago Center. The Urban Apprentice usually spends one full year in residence at Chicago Center. This month Megan Crawford, LearnChicago! Coordinator talks about her experience with Chicago Center:
“I can’t believe it’s already my turn to write an Apprentice blog! That means our time as employees of Chicago Center is almost over. I have some amazing experiences as the LearnChicago! Program Coordinator. I have had a blast working with so many great colleges and diverse groups. I’ve loved participating in the programs and learning along with the students. I’ve been challenged and encouraged to take autonomy of my position, and my own abilities and career goals have, undoubtedly, been strengthened. Truthfully, I have loved every part of the past year and it still seems surreal that I get paid to work with such a fantastic group of individuals.
The Center is an amazing organization and, if anything, this year has showed me that it serves a different role for everyone. Each student finds something unique within its pedagogy. Some find answers to personal struggles within their class discussions; some find their vocation through internships; others arrive in the big city and find their future home. Regardless of the form it takes, each student who attends Chicago Center finds one thing: transformation.
Truthfully, I applied to the Apprenticeship program with very selfish reasons. I was at a point in my life where I needed change and I wanted to live in a city where I would be accepted. I wanted a job that would let me transform, both professionally and personally – and it has.
Chicago Center has become like family; it has given me the courage to start over, the confidence to live openly, and a supportive environment in which to question my beliefs. We are all different: not everyone on staff necessarily loves Barack Obama, holds the same religious beliefs, or even thinks the White Sox are God’s gift to baseball. But those differences [except maybe disliking the White Sox] are encouraged.
In my opinion, that’s the best part of Chicago Center and the highlight of my position as LearnChicago! Program Coordinator. I have been able to witness how the programs and activities I’ve planned have affected dozens of students. Whatever the class and wherever state they’re from, there’s always at least one student who voices how Chicago transforms him. I have seen so many students come to this city and find a community that meets their needs and interests and, for the first time, feel a certain acceptance. I’ve watched students face their fear of living, working, and navigating big cities and discover an independence they hadn’t thought possible. Some just leave with a more open mind and a better understanding of the world around them. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.
In one of his all-staff emails, Scott Chesebro, our venerated Executive Director, described a recent political change as “an affirmation of the value of inclusion in dialogue and of the recognition of the human experience of difference.” To me, this speaks to the heart of the Center. This program allows students to express and embrace the most important, and often vastly unique, parts of them. And, fortunately for me, it allows staff members to do the same.
So thanks, Chicago Center: hopefully the new Apprentices find their year on staff just as transformative as we did.”
We’d like to thank Megan for telling us about her experience and letting us share it with our potential students and alumni!