A reflection on John Deere's experience with City Scholars program

5/5/2023 9:34:55 AM Cassandra Smith

Since opening its Chicago location, John Deere has rapidly grown and transformed its public reputation as it has also developed new high-tech products, including a fully autonomous tractor highlighted at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Deere’s researchers are leading the charge in ag-tech and partnering with The Grainger College of Engineering to collaborate with students through the City
Scholars program.

In its inaugural year of participating in the program, Deere worked with eight part-time students to build their experience in the tech industry. The company wanted to not only give students real-world experience but also promote Deere as a place to have a fulfilling technology career. “We’re trying to send the message that you don’t have to be at Facebook or Google to develop a blazing career in tech,” said Deere IT (Information Technology) Operations Leader Johanna Acevedo.

One team of interns was tasked with working on an e-commerce project platform that the company is releasing to their dealers to replace a lot of legacy applications. Acevedo said their students had skills, noting they were “eager to learn and jump in to be a contributing part of the team. They fit in well with the John Deere culture.” Of the eight interns, six were invited to continue their research at John Deere’s location at the University of Illinois’ Research Park in Champaign.

The program not only provides students with experience in the field but also helps keep talent in Chicago and the Midwest. “It was a great strategic move,” said Acevedo. “It helps us build an early talent pipeline, bring them to work in Chicago, convert them to part-time students in Research Park, continue working with them again at Research Park or in Chicago, and then convert them into our rotational program.”