In our last couple of articles with Tech Elevator, we’ve discussed the school’s major features, as well as how its Pathway Program helps maintain the school’s 90 percent job placement rate.
We’ve also briefly discussed how Tech Elevator is using its Represent Tech Scholarship to increase access to software development careers for underrepresented groups. Though it’s one thing for an organization to claim a commitment to change, Tech Elevator is putting its own money on the line to make that change a reality.
What’s the Represent Tech Scholarship?
The Represent Tech Scholarship from Tech Elevator covers the majority of tuition costs for groups that have been historically underrepresented in tech.
The race and gender dynamics in today’s software development industry are leaving a lot of people behind. The racial wage gap continues to widen even as the field continues to expand, and the gender gap in tech remains a problem decades after being identified.
Tech Elevator is keenly aware of these issues, looking at the makeup of its classes and the job market around them. In 2020, it set out to make a change by establishing a scholarship for underrepresented groups.
When the coding bootcamp established the scholarship, it committed $1 million over the next three years to provide scholarships for one member of each cohort on all campuses and in its National Live Remote Cohorts. But the school still wasn’t satisfied.
Tech Elevator partners with leading organizations across industries to continuously expand the scholarship’s funding. These organizations, including PNC Bank, the National Center for Urban Solutions, and more, have committed to diversifying the tech field. In return, they get to be first in line to hire a diverse pool of candidates with some of the best training in the industry.
Through its work with hundreds of partners, Tech Elevator has already provided over $1 million in scholarship money. Over 135 scholarship recipients have entered a field where they can collectively expect to earn over $337 million. This scholarship has made a tangible difference in plenty of lives, and your life could very well be next.
Do I Qualify For the Scholarship?
The Represent Tech Scholarship is available for students of Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/American Indian descent, as well as female, transgender, and non-binary students.
Students can apply for the scholarship after Tech Elevator has accepted them into a cohort and they’ve already enrolled. Qualified students can visit the scholarship page and fill out the scholarship interest form. They then record a video of themselves answering five questions, and the Tech Elevator team scores and selects recipients based on the school’s competency scoring rubric.
This accessible application ensures that historically underrepresented students don’t have another impenetrable barrier to navigate. The easy process is all part of Tech Elevator’s push to make room for everyone in tech.
Changing the look of tech forever may sound like a lofty goal, but this one scholarship can make a massive difference in a person’s life.
A Student’s Story
Leymaan Abdurehman works as a Junior Applications Developer at L Brands, specifically at Victoria’s Secret. She worked in biological sciences before deciding to take the plunge into tech. Thanks to the Represent Tech Scholarship, she was able to attend a Tech Elevator bootcamp without worrying about her financial situation. Here’s what she had to say about the program.
What made you want to go to Tech Elevator?
“Like a lot of people, I started seeing a lot of automation happening all around me. I worked in the biological sciences field, and even there I saw a lot of automation. Due to COVID, we couldn’t do our lab experiments, so I started dabbling with data analysis which kind of led me to coding. I found there was more creativity there, and you could build more customizable things. So instead of doing a master’s, I started looking into coding bootcamps. Tech Elevator had, by far, the best reviews and the largest alumni pool.”
How was the course?
“It was long. I got my B.S. at a huge school, and Tech Elevator was comparable to the level of intensity of my undergrad studies. The lecture starts around 9 a.m. and then goes until about 1 or 2 p.m., and then we have afternoon meetings where we talk about career coaching and then have homework assigned every day, so it was very busy.”
How was the application process for the Represent Tech Scholarship?
“There were two parts to the application process. There was a written part that was pretty straightforward that asked a lot of classic questions like why we think we should get it above everyone else, and what sets us apart. The second part of the application process was a recorded video in Kira, a video platform that gives you a question and then 30 seconds to answer [the question]. It was a little bit anxiety-inducing. The second part was pretty challenging, and I think it was to test your ability to think on your feet, and have a strong sense of self. You really had to think about your own experiences pretty confidently and quickly.”
How did the scholarship impact your learning experience?
“I knew that if I didn’t get it, I was going to pay for Tech Elevator anyway because I was very passionate about going to that school. But not having to worry about the financial burden was a huge weight off my shoulders. Most people took out loans, but it was nice to not have to think about paying it back or anything like that. I was in a peaceful state of mind.”
What do you feel sets Tech Elevator apart?
“From my research, and just going through and talking with people from other bootcamps, it seems that Tech Elevator is unique in the sense that it has the Pathway Program. The second part of the day when you’re doing the career planning, it’s not just resume tips and LinkedIn stuff, they have connections with companies and they’ll connect you with companies.”
“With Victoria’s Secret, for example, they’ve sent their alumni there many times. So the company was able to talk to me and they saw I went there and they trusted it. I did have to do some technical interviewing, but I think they have a high level of confidence in Tech Elevator alumni.”
“I think it sets them apart that they have such a strong relationship with these companies, and they really teach soft skills as well so it’s not just technical stuff. They taught me things like how to answer questions and speak about myself, which I think was the most difficult thing for me.”
Did Tech Elevator make efforts to encourage diversity in its courses? Did you feel welcome?
“They are definitely doing what they need to do. I think the field itself has a lot of work to be done, but in terms of Tech Elevator, yeah. I remember the first day, our Pathway Director, within the first two minutes of all of us meeting each other, told us what they didn’t tolerate and that was really welcoming.”
“The people in the program, it’s not that diverse of a program, but that’s not really on Tech Elevator. I think the more they’re able to do these Represent Tech Scholarships and outreach, the more the diversity will come, but they’ve created a really welcoming environment. I felt really welcome there.”
How well do you feel Tech Elevator prepared you for your new career?
“I really did feel prepared, which is crazy. After undergrad, I did not feel prepared after four years of study. But after just 14 weeks, I felt very confident. In the final two weeks of the bootcamp, they do a final capstone, where your instructors pretend to be team leads and they play all of these roles in the Agile methodology. And that’s exactly what I ended up doing at my job so I felt very prepared.”
What’s your long-term career plan?
“I want to learn as much as I can. I kind of feel like a baby in the career world again. There’s so much flexibility in the tech world that I could work anywhere doing anything. It’d be really fun though to find myself at a larger tech company, that’s kind of where I would hope to be. Also, with my biological sciences roots, it’d be a lot of fun to work at a biotech company. I know it’s something that’s growing these days, and it’d be really cool to apply my prior knowledge.”
What’s your advice for people breaking into the tech industry that may want to apply for the Represent Tech Scholarship?
“If you don’t see yourself represented, you can be that representative for the next person. If you see gaps and an inadequate amount of representation you can add on to that. I think that’s something to be motivated by.”
“I had a Tech Elevator alum who did it before me, she was an African girl and my parents are African immigrants. And talking to her I felt like I could do it. She had a very positive experience, so it’s kind of like a chain of alumni encouraging more and more people to come on board.”
What are your final thoughts on Tech Elevator?
“Nearly everyone [from my cohort] has a job already and has had a job. We connect with each other on LinkedIn, so I can always see when people are updating their job statuses. So whenever someone talks to me about wanting to join the tech field or asks how I did it, I just tell them Tech Elevator.”
“Don’t bother doing all the research I had to do because it’s such a great place. And they’re developing more and more diversity initiatives and ways to reach out to the community, so it’s a very welcoming and respectable place to go.”
Making Tech Opportunities Accessible to All
Tech Elevator doesn’t expect to correct every problem with tech on its own, but as Leymaan said, this school is doing its best. And even though the program is already showing plenty of success, it’s just getting started. This coding bootcamp is making a genuine effort and reaching out to other groups in the hopes that they’ll do the same.
If you want to make a career change with help from the Represent Tech Scholarship, take the certified unbiased Tech Elevator aptitude test and start your journey into tech today.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.