Acing the Interview

In May, Peter Sims, award winning author and founder of the BLKSHP foundation, asked a group of Silicon Valley executives an important question: “How can we better utilize our entrepreneurial potential, networks, and technology to help reinvent America?” We think Peter’s question, and many others like it, have created amazing dialogue about what we can do as a community to better serve the populations we care deeply about. As a team, CODE2040 has thought about how to expand our reach and we’re excited to share with you our response to the ever-evolving needs of our community.

The Fellows program, launched in 2012, has given us invaluable insight into the needs of companies and students. Through four cycles of Fellows programming, hundreds of conversations with companies, and thousands of student assessments, we’ve gained extensive knowledge about how to support emerging tech talent.  In response to that knowledge, we designed the Technical Applicant Prep Program (TAP), created specifically to help minority students ace the technical interview process.

Technical Applicant Prep saw its inaugural retreat weekend May 29th-31st, where 26 students experienced everything from sessions on networking to personal narratives from established tech professionals. Alongside our team, these students learned to navigate the hoops required of their selected career paths. “I feel like it's one of these gatekeepers,” said Alex Cattron, Technical Product Manager at CODE2040, “You have to be able to jump through this hoop to land a job, even if you are able to do the job.”

Alex is no stranger to interview navigation. Before joining our family in her current role, she was one of those five flagship Fellows, just learning to navigate the world herself. After completing her summer internship at Nutrivise, Alex went on to hold a number of roles spanning software engineering to teaching, eventually returning to the organization that provided her with a community back in 2012.

In her time as a computer science student, Alex received no formal technical applicant preparation. TAP gives students the ability and confidence to showcase their technical skills within the confines of the interview process. Over the course of the weekend, we saw students like Anthony Williams and Daphne Watson flourish through each individual workshop. Their experiences led them to write powerful testimonials in support of TAP on Medium, illustrating their growth in building self-efficacy and finding their purpose. These testimonials, Alex remarked, are right in line with what she hopes students walk away with at every TAP event going forward.

“Although it’s hard, it's worth it,” Alex said. “It's a great opportunity to alter your trajectory in life.”

We're excited to bring TAP to select geographies throughout 2015 and to launch our online programming in late 2015. To keep up to date on the latest and find out when you can participate in TAP in person or online, enroll in CODE2040 as a student or volunteer to help.  Follow us @CODE2040.