By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – The next generation of the region’s IT professionals started a 10-week class Wednesday in downtown Detroit which prepares them for a new career in the region’s burgeoning tech industry.

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The innovative ExperienceIT program brings together representatives from some of the top informational technology in the region to teach the 50 students in the hard and soft skills needed for a job in the information technology industry.

“We do need the brain power (in Detroit),” said Linglong He, CIO of Quicken Loans and ExperienceIT Chairwoman, as she addressed the class at Grand Circus in Detroit. “We want you to stay here. Not only do we want you to stay, we will help you advance your career.”

The class is comprised of recent college graduates, professionals looking to transition into a new field and even former military personnel. Students are in class eight hours a day, five days a week.

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Throughout the program, students are prepared to transition from the classroom to the workplace through real world IT projects, mentorship and training. During their classes, they will use technologies such as Java, .Net and QA in addition to learning soft-skills including interpersonal communication, working in teams and job interviews.

“When I read about this opportunity it seemed like a good chance to get some hands-on technical experience,” said Justin Zaner, an Army veteran who is enrolled in the program.

ExperienceIT’s inaugural program graduated 43 individuals with 36 eventually accepting full-time positions with partner companies including Quicken Loans, GalaxE.Solutions, Title Source, Fathead, Marketing Associates, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and DTE.

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The WIN (Workforce Intelligence Network) and DESC (Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation) are workforce agencies that are also partners in the ExperienceIT initiative.