'Creative Boot Camp' in Chicago opening doors for students and businesses; increasing diversity

For some, going to college is all about new experiences.

In a FOX 32 special report, we take a look at a groundbreaking program at a Chicago university that not only is opening doors for students, but businesses as well.

Jameelah Hargrove just graduated from Chicago State University and is spending her summer doing an internship at Leo Burnett.

It is something new for the theater major and world renown ad agency.

"It’s been opening up so many more doors for me," Hargrove said.

Lisa Ivy is the Vice President Strategy Director for Leo Burnett.

"We wanted to go to places that most people don’t go to," Ivy said.

Ivy helped come up with the idea to start a "Creative Boot Camp" at CSU last semester. That is the "master class" that Hargrove took before starting her internship.

"The hardest part for me was my confidence," Hargrove said. "Not really knowing anything about advertising world and being involved in something I had no prior knowledge of."


The purpose of CSU’s Creative Boot Camp is to help students understand the principles of marketing before taking an internship. It is also designed to help increase diversity in the advertising field.

"Most people don’t hunt for new talent," Ivy said. "They tend to go to these big state schools to find new creative talent. For our industry…we felt like we wanted to search in many places people don’t go."

For 10 weeks, Hargrove was one of five students who were part of an online class taught by some of the best in the business. Leo Burnett developed the curriculum in conjunction with the Marcus Graham Project.

Hargrove says her favorite part of the camp was having her ideas heard.

"The fact that I could, as a Black person, in a world that you may not always be able to be heard -- in the advertising world that color doesn’t really matter," Hargrove said. "If you’re here, you’re here. If your ideas are great, you’re great."

The administration at CSU is also excited about the latest addition to its academic offerings. They are hoping it will lead to even more job opportunities for both students and businesses, in many career fields.

"We’re also hoping other employers look at this as a model for how you develop diverse talent and open pathways and pipelines into various industries for Black and brown students," said Z Scott, resident at CSU.

Hargrove is not the only boot camp student to intern with Leo Burnett this summer. Three other students are also working there.

The fifth student from the boot camp already received a job offer.