Ruben Harris has completed step one for a successful startup: filling a void. The young progressive and critical thinker knew when he left his Atlanta hometown, that “in the future, every industry would be driven by tech.”
“Education teaches you skills, skills give you power, and the balance of power between personal liberty and job security will depend on your mastery of technology,” shares Harris who now lives in San Francisco.
He and a pair of self-taught engineers from the Ukraine named Artur and Timur Meyster, went on to create breakingintostartups.com, a podcast platform that features inspiring stories of people who broke into startup jobs in tech from nontraditional backgrounds. They are demystifying the process to break in and are striving to help people outside the world of tech to take action towards the different paths that they may or may not be aware of.
Millions of jobs will continue to be created and destroyed by technology and it is important to adopt a mindset of lifelong learning because the automation of skills is a real thing whether you’re looking for tech jobs or not.
“The world is global, and the U.S. will be majority-minority by 2040. With that in mind, it is very hard for the tech community to identify talent from nontraditional backgrounds if they aren’t from those communities or if they don’t spend time in those communities,” says Harris. The tech community he refers to was birthed in Silicon Valley and is ripe for diversity and inclusiveness.
The Breaking Into Startups team has amassed a pipeline of 30-plus podcast discussions with people who broke a glass ceiling. Interviewees represent a generation of professionals and educators who are unconventional techies and they also feature conversations with the most prominent coding bootcamp founders. “They are people from marginalized backgrounds, veterans, immigrants, academics and people in career transition,” he explains.
A cellist, Harris, who was born in California but reared in the Deep South, didn’t realize that Black people were a minority. He was able to use his music background to infiltrate circles he otherwise could never enter. “I was able to discover different routes to the world of finance. That was my foray into an industry that was unfamiliar.”
Harris was an investment banker with a leading North American financial services provider in their Chicago office. He later moved back home to work as an investment banker in Atlanta. By year three, he was working on his exit strategy.
He yearned for more than just a salary increase. One of his tweets caught the attention of Balaji Srinivasan, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz at the time. After several conversations over social media, those talks eventually led to a meeting that convinced Ruben that he needed to leave his job to get the skills he needed to thrive in a tech driven environment.
He immersed himself in reading, bought a one-way ticket, found a place to live for a month, and landed a job three weeks later. He wrote a story about how he did it called: ‘Breaking Into Startups’ and it went viral.
“I came up with this plan with the twins, Artur and Timur Meyster, an investment banker and a project manager, respectively. We always wanted to do things as a team and they left their jobs to join three-month dev bootcamps to become software engineers.”
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