Live from The Iron Yard: U.S. CTO Megan Smith talks TechHire in DC

Over the past year we have had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with the White House on a number of initiatives including the Opportunity Project and Computer Science for All, and Vice President Joe Biden even helped us kick off the Tech Opportunity Fund in September.

Last week, we had the privilege of hosting U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, at our Washington, DC campus to celebrate the achievements and future of the TechHire initiative, and announce the 20 new cities joining the TechHire family. After Megan and Portia’s remarks, the more than 50 attendees at the event participated in small group discussions about how communities can better work together to foster an inclusive, accessible tech industry and train tomorrow’s talent.

Bringing together the great minds of government leaders, local employers, students and higher education influencers generated a thoughtful dialogue on the issues of the day and a series of smart next steps to make an impact. Below are a few notable points that came out of last week’s event:

  1. It takes a village: This age-old idiom is particularly true in the tech world. It will be impossible to make a real lasting change on diversity and access to tech education without all parts of a city’s ecosystem working together – from government and code schools to CEOs and students. As Megan Smith said, TechHire “takes a community and is community-based,” and we couldn’t agree more with that approach.
  2. Take initiative: Know of an organization doing good work in the tech industry? Get involved. See an opportunity to fill a void in the tech industry? Start your own initiative. Megan Smith shared that TechHire was was born from a “scout and scale” philosophy. The White House saw the great work that code schools were doing, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if all cities could do that?’ Then a few months down the road, our CEO Peter Barth was inspired by the good work the TechHire initiative was doing to launch the Tech Opportunity Fund so that students from diverse backgrounds who have financial need can attend code school tuition free. Full circle.
  3. We are all techies: Megan Smith summed it up best, “There’s not tech people and non-tech people. There’s just all of us.” Technology is integrated into every aspect of our lives – it’s how we book vacations, communicate with our friends and family, and schedule doctor’s appointments. And from the business perspective, every company is now a tech company in one way or another. Whether personal, business or both, we all have a stake in technology and will be well-served to learn about what’s going on tech and how it can be used to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
  4. Keep talking: The overwhelming feedback we received from the event is that there is a huge appetite for conversation. The more we break out of our silos and talk to people from different backgrounds – be it government, enterprise companies, startups or aspiring coders – the more we will be able to find synergies and sync up our efforts. After all, we’re all working toward the same goal.

In case you missed it, here is a video of U.S. CTO Megan Smith’s full remarks (begins at minute 20:00).





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