This summer Stack Overflow, together with a host of NYC-based tech companies, created Beyond Coding, a 10 week program for emerging developers and designers. We sought to guide students through the finer points of professional "soft" skills in order to help those lacking experience gain a foothold in the technical job market. Having no idea what reaction the program would invite, we had an astounding 375 applicants from all over the world. With the program open only to those living within the New York City area, 221 students were accepted. 110 students went on to complete the course requirements, which included attending 5 out of 6 classes and passing the project-based homework assignments. Prior hard coding/design experience was required for this program, as the focus was instead on mentoring, training, and confidence building.
In collaboration with the New York Tech Talent Pipeline, Beyond Coding included courses from Stack Overflow, Crest CC, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Tumblr, and Trello. Speakers from each company (be they developers or recruiters) shared insights and practical knowledge that they themselves wish they had known when starting out careers in the tech industry. Each course was catered specifically to developers and aimed to increase overall confidence; they included perfecting elevator pitches, business networking, learning how to find new resources on the job, working with data, technical communication best practices, and tech interviewing tips. The classes were designed to be highly interactive by encouraging students to discuss their ideas and projects and solicit feedback from one another.
We couldn't have asked for a better group of students to spend the next few months with. They came from a diverse range of backgrounds and genders - 69% identified as male, 31% identified as female. Each student came to Beyond Coding for a different reason. We met graduates, career changers, self-taught techies, and part-timers looking for full-time roles just to name a few. At the beginning, confidence was on the lower side, with 30% of students stating they were not confident in their ability to get hired in a technical role. At the conclusion of the program 90% of students were confident they would be hired or had already accepted a job offer. Students were highly encouraged to utilize social media outlets such as LinkedIn to present their coding skills and qualifications and create a professional online presence. On Twitter, you can check out #beyondcodingNYC student conversations and photos.
The Hiring Fair
Hosted at AppNexus, the Hiring Fair was held on September 9, and was open to employers hiring entry-level technical roles. Participating employers ranged from large corporations such as Morgan Stanley, American Express, NY Times, and HBC Digital, to local start-ups including App Partner, Decoded, and Percolate. Over 80 students were in attendance, with around 20 students gaining “Early Bird” access by consistently attaining high marks for their homework projects. The evening was a great mix of networking, resume reviewing, and getting to see students confidently engage with employers.
The End Result
The program caught the eye of BRIC TV, a Brooklyn arts and media nonprofit, who have created this fantastic video overview of Beyond Coding and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program, whose students were required to attend all Beyond Coding courses. Each student who completed the Beyond Coding program should be proud of the hard work and late nights they put in. We’ve been impressed with the caliber of everyone involved and can’t wait to hear about the new roles and internships that will be taken on in the coming months.