Technology is ever-evolving with a high demand for cellphones, laptops, and other gadgets that people use every day to make their lives easier. However, technical jobs seem to lack diversity and inclusion. According to Atlassian.com, 76 percent of technology jobs are held by men, and Blacks and Latinos only make up 5 percent of those jobs in the workforce.
New York on Tech is making great strides to end the lack of representation of people of color in technology. Founders Jessica Santana and Evin Robinson have impacted the lives of over 1,000 students by helping them gain opportunities in the market to increase inclusion.
“New York on Tech is an early pipeline tech talent accelerator with the mission to prepare the next generation of technology innovators,” Santana said. “New York on Tech was an organization that started in 2014 as a passion project. We’re trying to transform the opportunities for young people in the sector.”
The dynamic duo were both tech consultants and worked with financial services organizations and public sector agencies before starting their own company.
Students land internships through the company by being with them for one or two years developing technology skills on either web development, mobile development, product management or UX design.
Some technologists help teach these students the courses in companies that transform into classrooms.
“These are all skill sets in some way or form that they learn with us through our programming before we place them into the internships,” Robinson said.
“After students graduate from our programs, they get an opportunity to interview with all of our corporate partners, our corporate partners have an opportunity to choose which New York on Tech students they want to sponsor over the summer,” Santana said.
As a result of the students receiving sponsorship, they receive either a paid six week or a ten-week internship depending on the partner.
For Santana and Robinson, lack of representation of people of color in technology has multiple causes.
“The first category is lack of access to a quality technology education. Right now in our school systems across the country, there is a lack of computer science education, a lack of information and technology and education embedded within school systems themselves,” Santana said.
Santana says that there is also a lack of opportunity within companies. Corporations have a chance to reshape the way they think about equity within their hiring practices that make it more inclusive to Blacks, Latinos, and people who identify with the LGBTQ community.
Robinson believes that people of color should consider technology as a market to look into to thrive.
“Minorities or people, in general, should be looking at the technology industry, as an industry to get into. There’s so much momentum, and the industry is growing,” Robinson said. “When we think about our communities of Black and Brown people, one will then pinpoint the technology industry as an industry in which we should be planting our focus.”
High school and college students receive full scholarships in some of the top technical colleges and university programs through NYOT.
“Students are leaving our programs with at least one or two paid internships in technology before they’re even going to college. We’re bridging the gap for them and aligning the students with mentors and career champions that look like them,” Santana said.
NYOT students have a peer network of support that allows them to connect with students and mentors who can guide them to success in the technology market.
“Once they step foot onto college and university campuses because they’ve been with us for two years already, they have the opportunity to do internships in the industry to use their skills. They’re traditionally doing well in their first year of college when it comes to their technical courses,” Robinson said.
Robinson and Santana have reaped an abundance of rewards since starting NYOT.
“I would say the biggest reward for me is seeing the growth of the students,” Robinson said.
“It never feels old when a student comes back and says, ‘Hey, everything that you said last year is what I’m doing now in my first year of college. And without you, I don’t know that I would’ve made it this past couple of months,’ ” Santana said. “ I think it’s moments like that that reaffirm why we started NYOT.”
Robinson encourages those with an interest in the tech sector to be passionate about what they’re doing.
“You have to be truly passionate about the service or the product or the target market that you’re working with because being an entrepreneur is extremely hard,” Robinson said. “[Someone who] wants to get their foot into the technology industry should be studying the market.”
“I would say find a way to figure out what skills you have that will directly translate to the role that you want,” Santana said.
Santana and Robinson are preparing for their Innovators and Distributors Awards Ceremony taking place at the Paley Center for Media on Oct. 17. The ceremony will recognize young leaders in technology.