At Udacity, we are focused on helping students obtain job-ready skills — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, social unrest and the Black Lives Matter movement confirmed a different challenge faced by the tech industry — diversity and inclusion.
Consider this: Only 6.8% of computing and math-related jobs are held by Black and Latinx people today, according to the Brookings Institute. What’s more, Black people make up only 3% of employees in the top 75 Silicon Valley tech companies, compared to 24% of the total workforce.
In an effort to increase representation in the tech industry, Udacity launched The Pledge to Equality Scholarship program in 2020. And, in addition to providing the skills that will make the graduates ready for their job on day one, we wanted to connect them to employers looking for talent to close the skills gap in their organizations.
In fact, we held our first virtual career fair for the Pledge to Equality Scholarship students in early 2021 that brought together seven employers to meet nearly 100 students eager to make an impact in the tech industry.
Udacity’s Pledge to Equality Virtual Career Fair Creates Job Opportunities
The first virtual career fair for Udacity’s Pledge to Equality scholarship students was held earlier this year and “Great fit,” “Nicest Human Ever!” are just some of the positive comments from hiring companies.
The event was attended by several companies including StreetCode Academy, who hired a few of the attendees of the career fair.
“Udacity understands the importance of creating pathways for black and brown individuals that want to continue their education outside of the traditional system. Like StreetCode, they are committed to closing the tech gap that has been in our communities for decades. We are not only educating our students but meeting them with career opportunities that provide leadership, mentorship, and competitive pay,” said Partnerships Manager, StreetCode Academy.
“Everyone Jasmyne [COO at StreetCode Academy] & I spoke to at the event had a deeper calling, and understood the power of their voice. Several of our candidates work for us as Web Designers and Lead Teachers, and some even volunteer for us in our classes. Overall, we are happy to share in the community Udacity is building,” he added.
The Virtual Career Fair not only gave a platform to find tech jobs for the people of color but also enabled them to associate themselves with the missions they care about.
“Udacity’s Pledge to Equality Scholarship Program gave me the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of Data Science while interviewing for real-world positions at growing tech companies. At Udacity’s Virtual Career Fair I received and accepted a great offer from a company that I interviewed with. Thank you, Udacity,” said Andre LaMont, a Pledge to Equality Scholarship graduate and one of the students who received a job offer at the career fair.
“I began working at StreetCode Academy as a web developer. I managed their website experience for about six weeks before applying for an internal position. I recently started a new role as Lead Teacher. In this role, I work alongside the StreetCode Academy team members to develop new educational experiences.
“StreetCode Academy focuses on “empowering communities of color to achieve their full potential by sharing the skills, mindsets and networks they need to embrace tech and innovation”. That is an amazing mission to be involved in. It’s an honor to be here,” Andre added.
While the career fair showed the kind of impact a small step could make, many students found it extremely helpful also because of the format.
“It was great to move seamlessly into a video interview to have face-to-face interaction with the recruiters. Overall, it was a win-win platform for all participants,” said Monique Roberts, a Pledge to Equality Scholarship student, currently working as a Digital Marketing Intern at Udacity.
Monique is not the only intern at Udacity from the Pledge to Equality scholarship program. We have hired several interns in various departments across the organization.
“I honestly did not expect to find any of the Pledge to Equality students interested in the possibility of being an intern with Udacity’s Curriculum Team, since they had all been studying technical fields. But I was very pleasantly surprised to spend the entire duration of the fair engaged in conversations with many students who wanted to find out about interning as a Curriculum Manager,” said Rick Gaston, Curriculum Manager at Udacity and one of the hiring managers at the Pledge to Equality Virtual Career Fair.
“As I chatted online with each student, I glanced through their resumes and/or LinkedIn profiles, and was struck by the varied and strong professional experiences some of them had, that could serve them well in a role on our team.
“I’m happy to say that it has all worked out and I found a stellar intern who has been contributing immensely to our team by bringing in a fresh perspective and the right skills and experience,” he shared.
Be a Part of the Change Today
Increasing representation in an organization is not just the right thing to do, it’s great business.
Companies that increase representation drive more productivity, morale, and ROI in their own organizations. In fact, companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.
If you want to drive diversity in your own organization, learn more about Corporate Social Responsibility scholarships.