At Bunny Studio and at our sibling companies Voice123 and Torre, we are committed to diversity in tech. We know that having a diverse team brings with it multiplicity of opinion, experience and worldview. That, in turn, makes us a stronger and more resilient workplace where differences are celebrated and recognized as opportunities for growth.
Those are lofty words. But how do we actually champion diversity? We are a global team, of course, but the importance of this extends beyond just us as a company. How do we work to make the tech world more accessible to everyone — regardless of background? How do we break down barriers of entry — real and perceived? How can we help ensure that the next generation of tech leaders is truly representative of global diversity?
Well, those aren’t things that can be done in isolation. And they’re definitely not challenges that can be surmounted all at once. After all, the tech world can have a high barrier for entry. What we can do, though, is put our money where our mouth is.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. Let’s get a bit more context first.
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Meet the Holberton School.
The Holberton School champions accessible tech education for all. Founded in San Francisco, and recently expanded to New Haven, Connecticut, the two-year program does not require any payment up front. In fact, students only repay their education once they have gained high paying jobs as full-stack engineers at companies such as Google, Tesla, Apple and LinkedIn. Why? Well, education is expensive, especially higher education. A program such as this lowers that barrier for entry and increases diversity in the tech world.
During this program, participants learn everything from systems administration and high-level programming languages in their first year, to specialized elective subjects such as machine learning and virtual reality in their second year. In between, they take part in an internship with an allied tech company. At the end of those two years, participants are very employable and possess the educational capital necessary to support themselves and their family. Software engineers, after all, are highly sought after.
The only joining requirement? A willingness to work hard and learn from some of the best in the business. As well, of course, as some short application projects.
In a place such as the United States, where the cost of education can be prohibitively expensive, the Holberton School prides itself on making a tech education available to those who want it. The cost of education shouldn’t be a barrier to entry or to career success.
But, until now, the Holberton School’s educational accessibility was only available to American students based, or able to relocate to, San Francisco or New Haven. But what about willing students elsewhere in the world?
Taking it worldwide.
If their names sound a bit familiar, it’s because we’ve chatted to them before. They are advisors to Bunny Studio and their expertise as tech entrepreneurs in Latin America and the United States has been invaluable in helping us grow as a company. They are also the founders of Coderise, a nonprofit that teaches low-income young adults in Colombia how to code. They are passionate about making sure that those who want to learn, are able to.
They saw an opportunity. Colombia is full of potential tech talent, Coderise’s popularity has proved that, but reaching that education at a higher level is tough. Universities in Colombia are expensive or extremely hard to get into, and their tech curriculums outdated. The lack of high-level engineering talent is felt in the country too, with a nationwide developer deficit of around 50,000 people and growing. The need for great tech talent is acute, but the education just isn’t there. Well, not currently anyway. Because of this, and sensing a potential solution, Jessica and Andres reached out to the Holberton School and to potential co-sponsors, including Bunny Studio.
While the Holberton School, at least at the time, hadn’t even considered expanding into Colombia, they were ultimately convinced. Coderise’s successes, as well as other data, demonstrated the area’s tech potential. Plus, sponsorship from both Bunny Studio and fellow tech start-up Rappi further proved interest in the local market and among local tech start-ups.
And so, four months after the idea was first broached (yeah, I know, only four months!), the first session of the Holberton School base in Bogotá is about to begin. Applications for the cohort closed with a total of 1900 applications and that first cohort has their first day of school on 28 January 2019. Not stopping there, applications for the first cohort of the base in Medellin are still, as of publication, being accepted.
Which brings us back to the beginning.
Supporting positive change.
Why would Bunny Studio support a program such as this? I mean, yeah, it’s good for building local tech talent, yes. That is great. But there’s more to it than that.
A program such as this — free during the period of study and with a compassionate repayment plan afterwards, but only when you find a job that pays well is super rare, both in the US and, especially, globally. In the case of the Colombian school, graduates will only need to repay their education when they begin earning more than 3 million Colombian pesos a month (or about US$ 833 as of 03/2020). In reality, graduates will likely earn much more, even if they do not leave the Colombian market.
Participants, after the first three introductory months, are free to set their own schedule in the 24/7 learning space. They are provided with top-notch computers and internet access at the school’s building, removing the burden of students individually funding these expensive tools. Applicants are also able to work on their applications from Coderise’s offices. Applications from women and other underrepresented groups in tech are particularly encouraged. Students who are also parents can bring their children to the educational workspace and are provided with a quiet area to nurse and look after them if needed. As for language skills, students need to know how to read and write in English, but not to perfection. The entire program is conducted as an English immersion, increasing the students’ language skills and global marketability upon their graduation.
This level of inclusivity and learning is what Bunny Studio stands for. So much so that, apart from giving the school major financial support as a whole, Bunny Studio (and our sibling companies) will also provide full scholarships to three women entering Bogotá’s first cohort of students. Women are severely underrepresented in the tech world. The program as a whole is a way of lowering the barrier of entry for all women into the tech world, yes, but also for three deserving individuals who will not need to repay their educational costs. This will make it even easier for them to support themselves and, if needed, their families upon completing the program.
Making a better, more equal, more diverse and more exciting world means supporting positive change when you see it coming your way. And that’s what Bunny Studio is doing. We are supporting a positive change in a region we hold dear — Latin America — in a sphere — tech — that we truly hope will become more inclusive in the near future. We want to work with people from all sorts of backgrounds, and never want anyone to feel that they cannot be part of the exciting tech world if they want to.
Do you want to work hard? Do you want to learn? Do you want to be the best that you can be? Then we want to support you.
Shaping the future.
Change sometimes comes in massive waves. Protests, revolutions, that sort of thing. Most of the time, though, change happens more quietly — learning something new, something that plants a seed of possibility. And that, really, is why we are supporting the Holberton School both in Colombia and as a whole. No, we don’t have the capital of the Gates Foundation (yet), but we do have the guts and the resolve to use our resources to make the future better for those we can — one tech class cohort at a time.
Our company goal is to “shape the future of outsourcing”. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that’s multifaceted. And that’s what we do — we change the future for the better, for everyone. Because we all need to be the change we want to see in the world.