Eunice arrived in San Francisco a week ago from El Salvador on a work permit. Sergio works in a restaurant and is changing his schedule so that he can get job training to jumpstart his IT career. Jose is a 24-year-old who knows time is running out on his learning tech skills.
While these stories differ, all 25 of the latest cohort of Mission Techies have one thing in common: they are from an underserved community and are seeking an opportunity to be part of the Bay Area’s booming tech sector.
In MEDA’s free, 12-week Mission Techies training program, 17- to 24-year-old participants learn IT essentials of hardware, software, networking and coding. The program includes a social enterprise model, with newfound skills employed to refurbish computer devices of low-income families in the Mission. Soft skills are also taught, complemented by resume writing and mock interviews being part of the job training.
The halls of MEDA’s Plaza Adelante, the Mission neighborhood center, teemed with the youthful exuberance of these budding tech workers yesterday, as the spring cohort of Mission Techies received their welcome orientation. Participants were advised what to expect from the 12-week workshop … and what would be expected of them.
“You need to give 100 percent attention to following the curriculum. I expect to see you here every weekday, soaking up knowledge like a sponge, learning new skills while also making new friends and having some fun in the process,” expounded MEDA Technology Training Coordinator Leo Sosa, who has been running this impactful program, which started two years ago as a way to create diversity in tech.
A July 2015 Washington Post article, “Silicon Valley Struggles to Hack Its Diversity Problem,” showcased the issue as follows: “Silicon Valley has a diversity problem, a contentious issue that has come into sharper focus in recent months as tech firms have sheepishly released updates on their hiring of minorities. The companies have pledged to do better. Many point to the talent pipeline as one of the main culprits.”
Mission Techies is working client by client to create that pipeline and bridge the divide. Graduates are currently working in IT jobs that run the gamut from small IT companies to government jobs at City Hall to tech giants such as Facebook and Comcast.
The next three months will offer a packed curriculum. There will be coding classes — a new language being learned. Taking apart and rebuilding computers, something few of the participants have ever done. Even visits to campuses of the main players in the tech sector.
Community support has been an integral piece of making the Mission Techies program a success. That’s why a call is being put out to the community for volunteer instructors.
Volunteer Services Manager Lucia Obregon knows the need for volunteerism. She notes, “MEDA is currently seeking volunteers to help us teach the curriculum. This is the ideal role for a tech worker new to the Mission who is looking to get to know — and help — their community. Volunteers work directly with our Mission Techies youth as participants learn computer and employment skills.”
Echoes Sosa, “Prior volunteers have seen their impact in the community being immediate. I look forward to partnering with more tech volunteers as this spring cohort sees opportunity offered and lives changed!”
The next 12 weeks should be interesting.
Are you interested in volunteering and changing lives?
Are you a tech company interested in hosting the Mission Techies for a campus visit?
Contact Lucia Obregon: (415) 282-3334 ext. 156; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a 17- to 24-year-old interested in the summer six-week intensive or fall 12-week Mission Techies workshops?
Contact Leo Sosa: (415) 282-3334 ext. 105; email@example.com.