From finance to fashion to healthcare, technology supports more than 291,000 jobs that pay more than $30,000 billion in annual wages in New York City. Job growth in the city’s high-tech sector grew by 33% from 2010 to 2014, more than four times the rate for the rest of the city's economy, according to the New York State comptroller’s office.
Job growth continues, and despite the increase in employer demand and solid technology infrastructure to meet it, businesses in New York City struggle daily to fill tech-related openings with qualified candidates.
C2W’s mission is to recruit and place candidates from non-traditional backgrounds —first-generation immigrants, women, minorities and veterans — into technology-focused jobs. It provides a series of computer coding “boot camps,” or intensive training sessions, followed by a paid summer internship.
#CUNYCodes is a faculty supervised co-curricular (non-credit) program where groups of students develop independent projects with tech-industry input.
BMCC is also one of 15 colleges that are part of the Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP) Academic Council, the educational component of a 2014 initiative launched by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. The initiative is working with public and private partners to define employer needs, develop and test training and education solutions, and deliver homegrown talent for 21st-century jobs.
“People from the tech industry have told us time after time, that graduates don’t have enough outside-the-classroom work to show; that they haven’t developed projects with a team, and these are key components to landing a tech job,” said Laura Burrell, Director of BMCC’s Office of Internships and Experiential Learning.
BMCC piloted Code to Work in the summer of 2016 with four students. Among them was Sanou Wourohire Laurent, who moved from Burkina Faso, West Africa to New York City in 2013 and now lives in the Bronx. Laurent already had a Bachelor of Science degree in English from a college in Burkina Fasa, but he always had a passion for computer science.
During his first year in New York, Laurent worked as a security guard at an office building in Long Island City, Queens, where he got to know a few of the office workers at finance firms, including a software developer.
“He lent me some computer science books and encouraged me to go back to college and study computer science,” said Laurent.
He took the advice, applied to four colleges and was rejected by three of them before being accepted at BMCC. At BMCC, he majored in Computer Information Systems, made the Dean’s List, served as vice president of the Computer Science club and worked with Professor Hao Tang to build a language-based computer application. He also won a BMCC Foundation Scholarship.
Laurent and three other BMCC students entered the C2W program and were placed in two consecutive coding boot camps at the tech startup incubator, Grand Central Tech.
Located in Midtown, Grand Central Tech has partners including the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and is part of NYCEDC’s Urban Technology Growth Hub.
Grand Central Tech, which creates and provides free space for startup companies in the urban tech sector, offers college students a window into the city’s high tech sector.
“During the boot camp we developed applications with the help of software engineers from Google who were volunteering with the Code to Work project,” said Laurent. After completing the bootcamp, he was placed in a paid summer internship with Drawbridge Networks, a Grand Central Tech-based company that uses technology to detect and respond to cyber-attacks.
“When my internship at Drawbridge ended, Code to Work started sending me out for job interviews,” said Laurent, who accepted an offer from J.P. Morgan Chase in December 2016 and begins his new job as a technology analyst in June 2017.
Burrell says BMCC is committed to assist with the Mayor’s vision to create an effective tech pipeline. #CUNY Codes is being offered this Spring 2017 semester and C2W will be offered again in Summer 2017.
“We knew that the number of CUNY and BMCC graduates entering the tech industry wasn’t as high as it could be,” she said. “The challenge is to better prepare our students for the tech workplace, and match their talent with opportunities in the fast-changing tech industry,” said Burrell.