Social Impact22 October 2020
“The summer after my junior year at Norfolk State University, I was invited to join an IBM networking program where I was paired with a mentor, a first-year software developer. Our conversations showed me all the opportunities available after graduation and helped me focus on my desire to code. When it ended, I was able to interview at IBM for what would become my first full-time job” - Michael Chase, Netflix Senior Software Engineer
This was a defining experience for my colleague Michael a decade ago, and programs like this that provide training and mentorship to Black students are as important as ever. And examples like Michael’s inspire how we can address the low representation of Black folks in the tech industry: by closing in on our own gaps while expanding access to Black students.
That’s the impetus behind our first-ever Netflix Virtual HBCU Boot Camp, a program for students and class of 2019 and 2020 alumni from Norfolk State University. We got to appreciate the students and faculty at Norfolk firsthand when a team of Netflix employees visited their campus last year. We saw the exceptional level of education these students are receiving, and brainstormed how we could create something together to broaden their access to the tech industry.
To make it happen, we partnered with leading education technology company , known for powering hundreds of high-quality online programs and bootcamps for colleges and universities. And so, enrollment for the inaugural boot camp begins today.
Launching in January, the 16-week program will take in up to 130 students. Participants will be divided into three program tracks - Java Engineering, UX/UI Design and Data Science. Netflix subject matter experts co-designed the content of each track with 2U. All courses will be led by university faculty, alongside guest lecturers from the tech industry.
Members of our Data Science, Engineering and Design teams will serve as mentors - including our very own Michael. 2U’s expert team of advisors will provide dedicated support and career coaching.
Students who are accepted receive a Netflix scholarship to cover the cost of attendance, and they’ll get course credit for completing the boot camp. The goal is for participants to come away better equipped with industry-relevant skills to enter today’s workforce, and with valuable, long-lasting relationships.
At Netflix, we see the power of technology to introduce us to other communities and cultures every day. As we continue to invest in building the best service for our members, we want to invest in the best team to support it. Creating space in the industry for all voices will only make it stronger. In addition to the boot camp, we are focusing on addressing our own gaps. On my team, we’re making sure recruiters are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thoughtfully build diverse pipelines, engage underrepresented talent, and push back on the systems within our hiring process that have historically kept certain folks out.
We’re excited about what all this work will bring, and hope this will motivate companies to invest more in similar training and recruiting the next generation of Black tech leaders.
Special thanks to Corey Twitty on my team who leads our Emerging Talent programs, in addition to our Product, HR, and Talent Acquisition teams who have worked so hard to make this happen.