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Alumni Stories, Career Changers, Social Impact

How Bootcamps Amplify Black Voices in Tech

General Assembly
June 19, 2024

In today’s fiercely competitive tech landscape, diversity isn’t merely a luxury — it’s a prerequisite for success. The most diverse teams outperform their least diverse counterparts by 36%, according to McKinsey — a testament to the undeniable value that varying perspectives bring to innovation and problem-solving.

But despite increasing recognition of the importance of diversity and a growing demand for diversity and inclusion initiatives, the reality is that Black individuals remain underrepresented in tech.  

Tech bootcamps provide one avenue for increasing the accessibility to education that’s so crucial to amplifying Black and other marginalized voices. These fast-track programs are pivotal in amplifying Black voices within the tech sector. By leveraging tech bootcamps as a means of access and empowerment, we have the opportunity to reshape the narrative and foster a more inclusive tech ecosystem. 

Addressing Disparities in Tech Growth

Tech generates immense wealth: the Big Five’s stocks represent 23% of the S&P 500 and $1.4 trillion in revenue. What’s more, tech jobs offer median wages 89% higher than the national average, a trend accelerated by COVID-19’s push for digitization and technology reliance across industries. And with 12.4 million workers, the market is growing rapidly, adding 200,000 jobs annually (four to five times the national average). 

Despite this prosperity, equitable representation in tech remains elusive. Black individuals, comprising 13% of the U.S. population, occupy only 7% of tech jobs, primarily as “computer support specialists.” Moreover:

  • Black representation in big tech increased by just 1% from 2014-2021.
  • Black talent fills only 4.4% of board roles and 4% of executive leadership positions.
  • Black workers earn 4% less than similarly qualified peers, with nearly half reporting workplace racial inequality.

The implications are stark: McKinsey predicts Black households could lose over $350 billion in tech job wages by 2030 if disparities persist, with a projected 37% annual wage disparity growth  — unless action is taken — and fast.

General Assembly Bootcamps are a Beacon of Hope

Across the board, only 6% of coding bootcamp attendees are Black, primarily due to the perception that tuition fees are too high or that there’s a scarcity of subsidization opportunities available at scale. At General Assembly, we empower every individual to pursue a meaningful career they love — and we’re committed to opening doors to increase Black talent in tech

Here’s how:

  • Affordability: The total cost of our program is less than one semester of college tuition.
  • Cost-Free Opportunities: We can help you explore employer sponsorship and scholarships that could make your education cost-free.
  • Financing: Deferred and 0% interest payment plans are also available.
  • Government Grants: If you live in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, or Washington, you may qualify for a government grant through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • GI Bill Benefits: Veterans may be able to use their GI Bill benefit to enroll in our Software Engineering or UX Design Bootcamps.
  • Cohorts: Each year, many of our generous employer sponsors — including Adobe, John Deere, M&T Bank, and Uber — support learners from underrepresented communities to participate in GA programs at no out-of-pocket cost.
  • Nonprofit partnerships: GA collaborates with local, grant-funded nonprofits such as St. Nicks Alliance and TechBuffalo to identify and support students from nontraditional tech backgrounds.

Over the years, we’ve provided training to hundreds of learners from underrepresented backgrounds in tech without costing them a cent out of pocket.

Inspiring Journeys: GA’s Impact on Black Learners in Tech

Hear from three General Assembly alumni whose lives have been transformed by their tech bootcamp opportunities:

From Janitor to Software Engineer: Anthony’s Story

With determination and grit, Anthony seized the opportunity to enroll in our Web Development Immersive course (now our Software Engineering Bootcamp) in 2017, leaving behind a dead-end job and sleeping on his mother’s floor in a senior citizens’ home. 

“It was rigorous — it definitely pushed me to my limits,” he recalls. “No matter how tough it became, it was like, why am I here? I’m in a situation at home I don’t want to be in. I want to change my life. And that just kept fueling me every day.”

Today, he thrives as a back-end engineer at Shutterstock, leveraging his GA education to excel. Anthony’s message to companies: “Don’t overlook alternative pathways,” because individuals —  like him, without computer science degrees — possess valuable skills and contributions.

From Navy Veteran to Software Engineer: Yohlanna’s Story

Fueled by her passion for technology and a desire for a meaningful career, navy veteran Yohlanna left behind multiple exhausting jobs and embraced GA curriculum full-time, honing her software engineering skills and mindset for success. 

“The curriculum looked like something that would help me get to where I need to get to,” she says. Through instructor-led sessions, she mastered Stack Overflow and problem-solving techniques. “The fast-pacedness of it is helping me out so much,” she says. “Now we’re doing sprint planning and closures where you have just two weeks to get your work done.” 

Today, Yohlanna is a software engineer for JP Morgan Chase in NYC, backed by the confidence, practical knowledge, and newfound sense of purpose she picked up in her bootcamp. She reflects, “For me, it was now or never, and honestly, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s an amazing experience just to be where I’m at today.”

Hear more from Yohlanna here.

From McDonald’s Server to Chief Technology Officer: Taj’s Story

With a passion for programming ignited at a young age, self-taught Taj seized the opportunity to enroll in GA’s Web Development Immersive (now Software Engineering Bootcamp) course, propelling him toward a career in tech. Through dedication and perseverance, he leveraged his GA education to co-found ListedB, a social booking app for the beauty industry. 

“I actually started this project as a final Capstone project for GA,” he explains. “For those people that are questioning if they should do a bootcamp or actually do it, there’s so many people out there that have done it… I’m now hiring people who have gone through it… Definitely go for it.” 

Taj’s journey underscores the value of practical knowledge and alternative pathways in the tech industry, and encourages aspiring tech entrepreneurs to pursue similar dreams.

Empowering Black Talent: Find Your Path Into Tech

General Assembly is more than just a tech bootcamp provider — we’re a catalyst for change in the tech industry. Through our commitment to affordability, access, and diversity, we’re leveling the playing field and empowering individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to thrive in tech careers. Join us in reshaping the future of tech by exploring our programs today.

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