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Experienced Burnout in Previous Career

Bianca's career in healthcare administration was growing, but her interest didn’t match the success.

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Enrolled in Cyber Program at Wright

She enrolled in cybersecurity courses at Wright College at no cost through the Workforce Equity Initiative.

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Started Apprenticeship at McDonald's

Bianca was hired as a cybersecurity apprentice at McDonald's, where she's gaining real-world experience and earning a salary.

By age 30, Bianca Harmon was starting to feel burnt out. While her career in healthcare administration was growing, her interest in her day-to-day responsibilities didn’t match the success.

“One day, I asked myself, what else am I interested in?” Bianca said.

Technology was the answer. Bianca started to look into various bootcamps, including those at prestigious four-year universities, and she stumbled upon Wright College. After looking at the college’s website, she decided to head over to campus to talk to someone in person.

During that visit, Bianca met Jenetta O’Neal, the director of workforce partnerships. Jenetta introduced Bianca to the Workforce Equity Initiative, which would allow her to earn a basic certificate in cybersecurity at no cost and take advantage of other support services.

“After I explained my situation, Jenetta immediately got the ball rolling, connecting me to transportation assistance, financial assistance, and helping me register for classes,” Bianca said. “I walked out as a registered student.”

Bianca enjoyed her classes so much that she decided to go for the associate degree instead of the basic certificate. She also started looking at other ways to move forward in the cybersecurity field. That’s when Jenetta told her about a cybersecurity apprenticeship with McDonald’s. As a non-traditional student, Bianca didn’t think she had a good chance of getting an interview, let alone the position.

“Jenetta told me to just take the chance anyways,” Bianca said.

Bianca did—and after a few rounds of interviews, she got the call that she was selected for the position. At McDonald’s, which is headquartered in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Bianca is part of the global identity and access team. She is one of three City Colleges students who make up the first cohort of cybersecurity apprentices at the company.

Bianca splits her time between school and work and gets paid a salary for the hours she puts in at McDonald’s. She was recently approached by one of her supervisors to participate in a “day in the life” video, which was posted to McDonald’s social media channels.

Now feeling inspired rather than burnt out, Bianca is enjoying her apprenticeship and looks forward to continuing her career in cybersecurity.

“I love the apprenticeship model. I’m able to apply my classroom knowledge to the real world,” she said. “I see a lot more companies tapping into [the model], and it’s a fabulous way to increase and encourage longevity. When a company makes an investment in that pre-entry level stage, it’s a recipe for longevity in employees.”

Bianca plans to graduate from Wright College in the spring of 2024 and hopes to continue her career as a full-time employee at McDonald’s.