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Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner General Assembly, and published on September 25, 2017. Go to General Assembly's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
As gender and racial representation improve in other tech disciplines, the study of data science hasn't caught up.
In the past few years, much attention has been drawn to the dearth of women and people of color in tech-related fields. A recent article in Forbes noted, "Women hold only about 26% of data jobs in the United States. There are a few reasons for the gender gap: a lack of STEM education for women early on in life, lack of mentorship for women in data science, and human resources rules and regulations not catching up to gender balance policies, to name a few." Federal civil rights data further demonstrate that "black and Latino high school students are being shortchanged in their access to high-level math and science courses that could prepare them for college" and for careers in fields like data science.
As an education company offering tech-oriented courses at 20 campuses across the world, General Assembly is in a unique position to analyze the current crop of students looking to change the dynamics of the workplace.
Looking at GA data for our part-time programs (which typically reach students who already have jobs and are looking to expand their skill set as they pursue a promotion or a career shift), here's what we found: While great strides have been made in fields like web development and user experience (UX) design, data science — a relatively newer concentration — still has a ways to go in terms of gender and racial equality.
Gender Equality in Data Science
For our analysis, we went through five months' worth (September 2016 through January 2017) of anonymized enrollment data for part-time General Assembly students (those enrolled in 10- to 12-week evening courses). It is important to note that our full-time Immersive course data yielded similar results, but we chose to focus on part-time data because the sample size was bigger.
First, let's take a look specifically at the gender breakdown of students in these courses.
On average, our part-time courses skew more female (56.5%) than male (42.3%).
Some courses, like Product Management and Data Analytics, seem to come close to gender parity. Front-End Web Development falls in right around the average across all courses, and in Digital Marketing and User Experience Design, both more consumer-facing fields, two-thirds or more students are women.
But the Data Science course shows the largest composition of male students — and the lowest of female students, at just 35.3%.
Race and Ethnicity in Data Science
Turning to the same anonymized data set, let's now look at race and ethnicity. Is GA's Data Science course equally lacking in minority participation?
At first glance, it appears that Data Science courses fare pretty well in diversity: The percentage of enrolled students who are white (46.1%) is less than average (46.9%).
But looking specifically at Hispanic/Latino and African-American students, the course has — by far — the lowest total percentage of students.
To put this data in context, the population of the United States is 62% white, 17% Hispanic or Latino, 12% African-American, and 6% Asian/Pacific Islander.
Just 11.8% of part-time Data Science enrollees are Hispanic/Latino or African-American. That's 5.7% below the overall average, and nearly half of the figure in the Front-End Web Development courses.
Education in Data Science
This data set also gives us insight into the highest level of education attained from part-time enrollees across GA courses.
On average, Data Science students come in with the highest degree attainment.
Across all courses, 85.4% of part-time GA students have a bachelor's degree or higher; in Data Science, that figure is 93.8%. This seems to largely be driven by the fact that there are far more master's and Ph.D. graduates in Data Science (37.7%) than the overall average (24.%). A surprisingly high 3.7% of students hold a Ph.D. — more than triple the average of 1.2%.
Data Science seems to draw from a smaller, more specialized pool, which could, in part, perpetuate diversity issues.
Data Science Is Still New
Female and minority students have made positive strides in coding and tech education at GA.
When coding and web development started getting popular two decades ago, the fields were almost entirely dominated by men — most of whom were white. Looking at our data here, though, it's clear things have changed for the better: Front-End Web Development courses are now 57% female and boast the highest percentage of students of color of any course.
At General Assembly, we're proud of the growing diversity of our global community, and we actively seek to create an environment where women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other underrepresented communities feel empowered to pursue tech and digital training that they may have previously felt was unwelcoming or inaccessible.
Since data science is still a relatively new field, it is possible things may just take some time to equalize. But we should not be complacent. To help accelerate the process, GA has implemented a number of social impact programs (focusing mainly on our full-time Immersive courses), and engages local and federal governments and well as corporate leaders to move the needle on access and diversity. These programs, which have served hundreds of students over the past two years, have created economic mobility for underserved and overlooked talent.
Some specific examples of that work include a partnership with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Tech Talent Pipeline program, through which GA helped dozens of low-income New Yorkers gain data analytics skills through our part-time programs. We recently launched a similar program through a U.S. Department of Labor grant. The private sector is also starting to step up — BNY Mellon recently invested in General Assembly's Opportunity Fund to train women and people of color to become data scientists.
General Assembly also works with large organizations to increase diversity within their teams. For less than the cost of traditional recruiting agencies, we find high-potential candidates from underrepresented groups, train them in web development, data analytics, or data science, and strategically place them for maximum impact. To ensure that new talent thrives, we offer robust onboarding training that gives both talent and managers the skills and strategies they need for long-term success.
We know these are important early steps, and that we have much work to do to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive data sector.
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If you're interested in joining the team at General Assembly, click here to see all of their available opportunities, and don't forget to press "Follow"!
How to narrow your focus, get a leg up on the competition, and look like the most prepared person in the room.
Below is an article originally written by startup founder and former GA leader Matt Cynamon for PowerToFly Partner General Assembly. Go to General Assembly's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Working for a startup company can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, and oftentimes fulfilling journeys of your life. But wanting in and breaking in to this competitive industry are two different things. Landing an opportunity at a startup is about more than luck. There are terms to learn, steps to take, and skills to grow to make you a candidate who stands out from the crowd.
Whether you're a recent college graduate, someone with 10 years of executive-level experience, recently completed a career accelerator program, or are just making a jump from a more traditional work background, there is a pathway to a dream job at a startup for everyone. While there's no foolproof method for landing a job, we've compiled six proven tips that can help you narrow your focus, get a leg up on the competition, and look like the most prepared person in the room.
1. People can get you further than job boards.
One of the nice surprises about the startup ecosystem is how supportive and helpful some of the people are. In every city, leaders in grassroots startup communities host events, give educational talks, make introductions, and offer advice. These individuals can serve as your early guides as you start out on your journey.
If you're just breaking into the startup world, you may not have a strong network to draw upon. That's OK. Go to events, meet people, and listen. As a new entrant into the community you might feel like you have little to offer in return, but one of the biggest favors you can do for someone is just ask them questions about their work. Don't be too forceful, but where appropriate, invite people for a coffee. It may seem intuitive, but being generally interested in others and what they do will help you foster relationships that aren't only valuable, but fulfilling.
When it comes time for you to start applying, warm introductions from someone within the community will go much further than a resume submitted on a job board. Founders often cite hiring as the biggest obstacle to successfully growing their company. It's a timely and difficult process that they love to circumvent with a nice, warm introduction to top talent (aka you).
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to get introductions is assuming that if people don't get back to you, hope is lost. Be prepared for repeated failure. Ninety percent of people will say they want to help you. Ten percent actually will. Why most people don't follow through is due to a variety of factors, but just know it's rarely about you. If you go into every conversation with this attitude, you will more easily be able to sustain your energy when your inbox sounds like crickets.
2. Polish your elevator pitch with a job-search thesis.
We're living in an age of self-driving cars, private spaceships, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, on-demand everything — and startups often lie at the center of these innovations. It's completely normal for someone starting on their journey to want to be a part of all of it. While you will encounter many people who are willing to help you in your job junt, you need to make it easy for them to do so. To that end, nothing will get you further than clarity and focus.
When you tell people what you are looking for, you want them to think, "I know who you should talk to." The easiest way to get there is to distill what you're looking for into three distinct points. We call this a job-search thesis.
The best job-search thesis will contain:
- Your desired company size.
- Your preferred industry.
- Your desired role.
For example, if you can tell someone at a cocktail party, "I want to work as a product manager at post-Series A company in the fashion industry," there's a good chance they'll remember you the next time they hear about a PM role at a company that makes smart athletic gear. Speaking about yourself with that level of specificity will instantly make connections in the mind of whomever you find yourself talking to.
3. Got experience? Great. Not so much? Then make it.
If you are moving into the startup world from a career in a different industry or type of role, make sure to play up your relevant experience. If you feel like your job title really doesn't translate to the position for which you're applying, break apart the components of your current role into the factors that would be relevant at a startup. For example, if you were a lawyer then you likely have strong attention to detail, analytical problem-solving skills, an ability to explain complex problems to many stakeholders, a strong work ethic, and a history of achievement. These are all things a startup would want out of a product manager. This exercise is especially important for more senior individuals trying to move into the startup world.
Of course, you don't have to rely only on your previous experience — the best candidates never do. Fortunately, the rules around experience have shifted and there are ways for you to start developing skills within a given field even if you've never worked in that field before.
Let's say you're really interested in doing digital marketing for a fashion tech company. For less than $50 you can start running Facebook advertisementsfor a friend's T-shirt website, cultivating skills in running paid social media campaigns. If you want to do UX design for an eCommerce startup, you can publish a series of UX critiques about popular eCommerce sites on a blog. Engineers rarely depend on resumes alone anymore; they demonstrate their experience by publishing their code to GitHub.
Even opening an account on Medium.com and writing commentary on the industry you're interested in can go a long way. Coupling this level of initiative with your previous (or nonexistent) work experience is the best way to demonstrate your talents and potential. In addition to gaining relevant skills that will assist you in a new role, you'll appear to be both passionate about the subject matter and a knowledgeable self-starter who practices it in your spare time.
4. Do your homework. Then, do some more.
With a solid network, clear thesis, and foundation of experience, it's only a matter of time before you start landing interviews. Most recruiters will tell you at this point to spend 12 hours preparing for an interview. We think that's child's play. You aren't interviewing to be a cog in a massive corporate machine. You are being assessed on whether the founder or manager would bet the future of their budding company on you. Make them comfortable — and confident in you — by being the most prepared person in the room.
Find founders on Twitter, LinkedIn, or in the blogosphere and consume every bit of content you can find. The information you'll find there is priceless because you will gain a deep understanding of how founders think and feel about the world. You can even head to Facebook and see if you have any mutual friends. Does all of this seem a little overboard? Perhaps, but startups expect a different level of commitment than many traditional careers. So if this sounds like a lot, you'll be in for a big surprise once the job begins.
5. Play the numbers game. Ask metrics-driven questions.
In an interview with a startup, you really have three goal goals: 1) Clearly communicate why you're capable of doing the job, 2) be the most passionate person in the room, and 3) ask the best questions. You certainly should ask standard interview questions, like "What makes someone successful in this role?" or "What will the first 90 days look like?" But what you really want to do in the interview is discover the metrics the company cares most about.
Sure, a company's public brand may be all about changing the world, but we can guarantee that every night before they go to bed and every morning after they wake up, the person interviewing you is checking a dashboard with a handful of key metrics, such as cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer, net promoter score, or churn. When they leave your interview, they'll probably check it again.
Metrics dictate performance, and in the uncertain conditions in which startups live, having insight into how well the business is doing is essential for a small team that has a lot of impact.
When you go into your interview, don't be afraid to ask:
- What metrics are you checking daily?
- What metrics are you checking weekly?
- What metrics are you checking monthly?
- What do you see as the biggest levers for improving those metrics?
- How are you doing against your goals?
- How can this role help you get there faster?
The answer to those questions will give you everything you need to know to position yourself as the best fit for the job. For example, if you're applying for a marketing job and learn in the interview that high product churn is keeping the founder up at night, you can follow up with an email with three ideas on how the company can immediately improve retention.
6. Pay attention to startup funding cycles.
Fundraising impacts everything about a startup, and understanding it can also serve as a huge advantage for you in your job hunt. When you read that a startup raised $15 million, it's safe to assume it isn't looking for a safe, high-yielding savings account to put it in. The company is going to put almost every cent to work by increasing marketing, improving the product, and, most importantly building the team it needs to take the business to the next level. There is literally no time when the ground is more fertile for you to land a job than immediately after a startup raises money. So it's on you to stay on top of the news.
TechCrunch is an excellent resource for keeping up with fundraising news. The site will report on just about every dollar raised in the startup world. If you're interested in a particular company, set up Google Alerts so you can be the first to know whenever a new round of funding comes in. If you want to be ahead of the curve, AngelList has a directory of all startups looking to raise their first round of funding. It's also an excellent job board.
These tips are just a start — for more expert insight, download our free guide, How to Get a Job at a Startup. Discover firsthand tips on how to break into a startup career, clear up confusing industry jargon, and learn about important resources that will aid you on your journey. Good luck!