The following post was written by Nolan Caudill, Engineering Chief of Staff at Slack.
At Slack, we've determined that the values most important to us in running our company are based on the technical ability to do great work, working hard to add that extra bit of shine, and being strongly empathetic to both our customers and our fellow workers. Our ideal employee possesses all these traits.
Typical hiring processes, though, rely heavily on referrals. There is a strong and proven correlation about one's background that determines what kind of job you acquire, which is mostly independent of your ability to do good work. Referrals are, in essence, "who you know." This ability to know the right person to get a job depends heavily on where you are from, what school you went to, what previous jobs you've held, as well as ever-present innate biases that humans possess. People get extra advantages — explicit or implicit — to even get into the jobs where these valuable connections are made.
We strongly believe that traits such as gender, race, country of origin, and/or sexual orientation have no bearing on one's ability to do great work. And like almost every tech company, our own upbringings, biases, and life experiences result in referral networks that are very homogenous, and we know we are missing out on great candidates based on these shortcomings.
In short, CODE2040 is a huge help in connecting us with qualified and eager candidates that wouldn't normally come through our networks. The extra structure and training that CODE2040 provides to the Fellows also produces better candidates on the whole as not only are they technically trained from previous internships and universities but they also know how workplaces function, how to communicate effectively with their peers and managers, and how to "level-up" as professional engineers. I wish all of our interns and newly-hired grads had similar training and support structures. Knowing how to code is important, but the intangibles are what makes for a great employee. For us, working with CODE2040 was a no-brainer.