General Assembly, Author at General Assembly Blog

Improving Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Within Your Organization

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Systemic racism has been a critical problem for generations, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought centuries of injustice to the spotlight. Over the last six months, following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others, individuals worldwide have taken a stand to fight oppression and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

It’s an inflamed and sensitive time that calls for radical change. Diverse companies not only outperform their less diverse peers, but they also forge stronger connections with their customers. 77% of U.S. consumers said it was “deeply important that companies respond to racial injustice to earn or keep their trust.” As consumer bases diversify and consumers change their spending habits, companies need to ensure that their content, messaging, product, design, and data align with these shifts. While organizations know they need stronger commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), many don’t know where to start — individual companies often take action but lack coordinated guidance. 

Our Standards Boards were established to increase the clarity of and access to careers in marketing, AI & data science, product management, and UX design. To date, the Boards have primarily focused on providing clarity on the skills needed within specific fields by publishing career frameworks and certifications. Now, it’s time to connect to the access portion of their work. Together, the Standards Boards have crafted DEI principles that guide organizations on how to provide equitable access to skills and career paths for their employees. 

Improving Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: A Practical Guide

To create a meaningful guide to DEI, our Standards Board Members reflected on what diversity, equity, and inclusion meant as individuals, employees, and leaders of organizations. With this in mind, we focused on improving the current DEI practices each member saw being used and creating a practical playbook that could be applied across companies and disciplines. Ultimately, we hope this playbook serves as a starting point for conversations around DEI that lead to career paths for diverse talent and helps leaders create work environments in which all can succeed. 

Our Standards Board DEI task force drafted a playbook of seven overarching principles that have been refined through feedback from colleagues, DEI experts, GA instructors and staff, plus more. These principles were designed to guide any organization’s DEI strategy, regardless of function, industry, geography, or company size.

These principles were created by leaders in various industries who have a real conviction for driving change. Below, you’ll find a few principles our board members stand behind; they hope you’ll use these to drive conversations and assess how your organization is implementing DEI.

Click to download

Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO at 4A’s noted: 

“We all recognize a critical need to address systemic issues with diversity, equity, and inclusion through actions — not just words. These principles were created to support action plans for every company to ensure a culture of belonging for all employees, at all levels throughout the organization.” 

We hope these principles spark conversations at your organizations that lead to tactical activities such as revisiting policies, analyzing pay equity, and tracking diversity data. While some of these principles are being implemented across board member organizations, some aren’t. Our intention is to enable organizations to implement DEI policies across every level of an organization through actions, not just words.

The Actions We Are Taking 

It’s essential that these aforementioned principles are put into action. Across the Standards Boards, we’ll be incorporating DEI into career frameworks, assessments, and products. We’ll also be actively recruiting more board members in 2021 to ensure our boards are representative of the talent in their industries.

Within GA, we’re also committed to aligning these principles with our work. We’re actively promoting equity and justice by using our platform to discuss why we should all be angry, and we’re making real commitments to ensure we’re not idle in the face of systemic racism. We’re cultivating conversations about our diversity story and creating a culture of dissent through creating an Inclusion Committee as well as a Fireside Chat series that brings employees and executives together for candid conversations on D&I (both started in 2019). 

We’re cultivating our future employee base by updating our policies to require a diverse slate of interview candidates for all leadership-level positions, revisiting internal promotion criteria, and launching a mentorship program (Code Grow) so our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) staff has formal avenues to develop their careers. To attract diverse talent, we are utilizing outlier career-search platforms like AngelList, Underdog.io, Vettery, c0ffe3, Black Creatives, and more.

We’re transparent about the areas of difference we’re cultivating by reformalizing our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) with dedicated executive sponsors. And we’re tying outcomes to actions by measuring all our people metrics and making plans to improve the experiences of underrepresented groups in our organization. We’re also ensuring DEI is central in our product development.

The principles set forward by the Standards Boards are essential to capturing many voices across multiple sectors because they encapsulate what has been learned on our individual and collective journeys. We look to evolving and integrating these principles into GA’s courses, continue the hard work and commitment to DEI at GA, and further develop organizational behaviors, along with the willingness of our Standards Board partners to do the same. 

The list below notes the leaders that have signed on. If you’re a leader who is ready to join us and adopt these principles, you can sign on here.

Participating Leaders:

Shri Bhupathi, Founder and Technical Fellow, MILL5
Gideon Bullock
Andrea Chesleigh
Chad Evans, SVP, Product and Platform, NBA
Stephen Gates
Benjamin Harrell, Chief Marketing Officer, Priceline
Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO, 4A’s
Willy Lai
Louis Lecat
Kevin Lyons, SVP of Technology, Nielsen
Francisco Martin, Head of Business Development, Thrive Global
Marilyn McDonald, SVP of B2B Experiences, Mastercard
Kristof Neirynck, CMO of Global Brands, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Gretchen O’Hara, VP of AI & Sustainability, Strategy & Partnership, Microsoft
Michelle Onvural, CEO, Bonobos
Seth Rogin, CEO, Magnolia Media Partners
Nick Perugini
Adam Powers
Professor Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean of Research & L’Oréal Professor of Marketing
Linda Tong, General Manager, AppDynamics (a Cisco Company) 
Sang Valte, UX Director, Jellyfish

It’s a new world that calls for moral bravery and clear actions. We welcome all feedback on these principles and look forward to hearing how your organization implements these and other DEI initiatives. 

 

This Holiday Season: Learn. Give. Grow.

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Our Free Fridays are back — with a twist.

In the spirit of bettering our community and serving those in need, from November 20 to December 30, 2020, we donated $1 USD to the International Rescue Committee for every person who joined us at select free weekly workshops. While this promotion is now over, we always have free intro classes and eventscoming up. From coding to data, marketing, and career development, explore the tech skills that will keep you in demand and in the know in 2021.

Explore Workshops

Free Lesson: Coding Essentials in 30 Minutes

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More than half of all jobs in the top income quartile show significant demand for coding skills.* Spend half an hour with expert GA instructor Madeline O’Moore to write your first lines of code and learn how coding knowledge applies to so many different fields. She’ll give you an overview of:

  • How HTML and CSS function together to form the backbone of the web.
  • Key coding terms and principles.
  • Tools you can use to practice.

If you’re curious to keep exploring, discover our popular short-form workshops like Programming for Non-Programmers. To dive deeper, check out our upcoming Front-End Web Development course to cement a versatile foundation in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Or start exploring what it takes to launch a career in web development with our Software Engineering Immersive career accelerator.

Browse Coding Workshops and Courses

*Source: Burning Glass, Beyond Tech

Adopting Artificial Intelligence for Your Organization: A Map to Help Your Team Embrace AI

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When you hear the term “artificial intelligence,” what comes to mind?

The idea that AI is upending the modern workforce is a big obstacle companies have to overcome when thinking about how to best integrate and adopt artificial intelligence into their business. While it’s true that automation may displace 75 million jobs, statistics also indicate that it will generate 133 million new ones worldwide by 2022. COVID-19 is only accelerating this change, transforming business models in every industry and challenging the skill sets of their teams.

While leaders know that artificial intelligence can unlock incredible insight, many companies — especially traditional ones — are struggling to adopt it. The ability to identify and implement AI technology can be overwhelming and complicated in equal measure. This stems from four critical challenges with emerging technology:

  1. Complex change management: There is often a disconnect between how companies anticipate using AI solutions and the ability of leaders and managers to handle the degree of adaptation that’s required. In general, the lack of understanding about what artificial intelligence actually is and what it does gets in the way of fully planning for this integration in order to really improve the business.
  2. Lack of examples: There aren’t enough publicly available common use cases from which leaders can learn.
  3. Need for ethics guidelines: There isn’t enough awareness of how to make good decisions around the ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence.
  4. Skills gaps for practitioners: There aren’t enough people with hard skills in AI, DevOps, cloud, machine learning, and data engineering to really enable this change, even as leaders begin identifying the right opportunities for it. About 95% of the AI-impacted workforce population (as identified by the adoption map below)* does not have skills in these sectors.

To address these challenges, we partnered with Microsoft to form the AI & Data Science Standards Board, representing a broad set of AI and data executives across the tech, auto, media, healthcare, professional services, and hospitality sectors. The board aims to increase the clarity around and access to AI skills and careers so that organizations and leaders can responsibly realize the opportunity of artificial intelligence.

Board members agree that, while machine learning and automated tools have the potential to drive better business decision-making, the No. 1 barrier to adoption is an organization’s inability to identify and implement artificial intelligence into its business model. This begs the question: How do you transform a business model?

It starts by taking a look at your workforce strategy.

Defining Roles in the AI Workforce

A true picture of AI encompasses how a workforce collaborates across teams, how workers do their work, and how they communicate with leadership. With this in mind, we created an AI & Data Science Adoption Map to help organizations evaluate what’s required for their artificial intelligence and data science adoption journey. The map captures the board’s perspective on which groups and functions should be responsible for the different elements of enabling a change to create a successful AI organization.

Click to download for more detail.

Let’s break down the map’s key features. At a high level, we have three groups: Leaders, Creators, and Users. These were chosen specifically to display their interconnectivity and showcase each group’s responsibilities. Leaders set the vision and are accountable for the responsible adoption of AI, which influences the Creators’ work. Creators implement the vision (set by the Leaders) while keeping in mind the needs and processes of the Users. Users then leverage the outputs of this AI and data science adoption to improve speed, efficiency, and quality of work. This map is not a reflection of an org chart, rather, it provides a bird’s-eye view of who should be involved in AI adoption and how it impacts their function. Download the map for more detail about the key functions and titles that fall within each group.

Many of our board members and enterprise partners acknowledge that few leaders truly know where to start when it comes to implementing and effectively leveraging artificial intelligence. But Gretchen O’Hara, VP of U.S. AI & Sustainability Strategy & Partnerships at Microsoft, stated that the “map will help companies reskill faster and at scale.”

If you could benefit from using the AI & Data Science Adoption Map, we encourage you to join the board in reviewing this framework to evaluate your organization and the strengths and gaps in your AI system.

Next Steps

Implementing AI and data science strategy within an organization is complex, and the AI & Data Science Adoption Map is a first step toward achieving improved clarity and definition for the field. The board’s next focus will be to more clearly articulate the skills required across different functions. Of course, we will also be evolving our training and certifications for relevant roles to ensure that team members at every level can better execute their goals.

This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to hear from you about how you plan to use the map. We look forward to continuing the conversation in the months to come.

Download the free AI & Data Science Adoption map here. Have reactions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at cheers@ga.co.

Meet the AI & Data Science Standards Board

Since 2011, General Assembly has trained individuals and teams online and on campus through experiential education in technology, data, marketing, design, and product. Learn more about how we can transform your talent and our solutions to upskill and reskill teams around the globe.

What Is an Income Share Agreement? (ISA)

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Financing education is a huge decision at any point of life—even more so in such uncertain times. That’s where an income share agreement (ISA) might be a great option to invest in yourself. In professional education, an ISA is not a loan, but rather a financial structure where tuition is repaid as a percentage of your monthly income for a fixed number of years.

At General Assembly, our ISA, Catalyst, allows students to learn in-demand tech skills in our full-time immersive courses and land a job with the help of our career services team. Repayment begins only once you secure a role earning at least $40,000 per year. After you’ve reached the minimum income threshold, you’ll start paying back 10% percent of your monthly earned income over 48 months.

Learn More

Make a 2020 Voting Plan

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Currently, the U.S. earns low marks when it comes to voter turnout: nearly half of all eligible voters didn’t vote in the previous presidential election. For many, not having time off from class or work limits the time window of getting to the polls, coupled with the fact that our electoral process can feel like an intimidating maze to navigate — for first-time voters and experienced voters alike. 

As a global education company with a community of learners 1-million strong, General Assembly is committed to showing up as a voice for positive change during this historic election cycle and beyond. 

That’s why we decided to give all U.S. staff and students the day off on November 3, 2020. And that’s why we’ve created the Make A Plan Resource Guide for our students, staff, and broader GA community. We want everyone to have helpful tools and resources at their fingertips to make a plan to vote and get involved in the political process.

We understand it’s a lot: checking your registration status, downloading a preview ballot in advance, seeking free rides to get to the polls… However, have no fear — our guide incorporates a wide breadth of resources and organizations that help simplify everything so you can focus on what you need to do (vote!). 

Our guide in no way captures every last detail, but we hope it can serve as a useful resource, and that you’ll commit to making a voting plan — in whatever way, shape, or form that you can. 

Click to Make Your Plan

Additionally, we’re hosting free online events around civic engagement that we encourage you to join us for: 

  • Latinx Heritage Month: Your Right to Vote (Oct.9)
  • Virtual Letter Writing with Vote Forward (Oct. 12)

Hopefully, we’ll see you at the polls — literally or figuratively.

Meet Lisa, General Assembly’s New CEO

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As General Assembly embarks on a new chapter within a new world, we’ve turned to Lisa Lewin for CEO leadership at this shifted moment — and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

On her first day as CEO at General Assembly, Lisa Lewin sat down with Co-Founder and outgoing GA CEO Jake Schwartz to share more about her journey and passion for education in a Zoom fireside chat with our global GA team. 

An Excerpt From Their Conversation:

Jake: Tell us more about your background!

Lisa: I have spent the better part of my career in education, art, science, and the business of education. I have always been deeply dedicated to impact — that’s the thing that ties everything together in my career. I’m a believer that the way to be happy in this life is to try to help others flourish, and I think education is a place to do that. I have spent time at big companies like McGraw Hill and Pearson, and I also built my own tech company that created curriculums for post-secondary institutions. 

Jake: How did you end up at GA? What was your first introduction to GA? 

Lisa: GA is kind of sprinkled throughout my career and has inserted itself into my life in random ways over the past few years. And I’ll just give a couple of examples. When I launched my own tech company, I was the first employee, so I literally had to build everything, including doing the code myself on our first products. I needed to learn and refine my skills in product development and design and took a GA course to do just that. It was an incredible experience, and so I became a fan way back then in the early days of GA. 

Then, at Pearson, I ran the global technology and product team with over 1,000 people across every continent. I always had great faith if I was sending one of my staff to GA — engineers, UX experts, data scientists — that they were going to come back with immediately applicable skills. If you’re going to invest like that, you’ve got to believe there’s an ROI, and there was always an ROI when I would send people to GA. 

And then lastly, just this year, I needed something fixed so I called a handyman I used to call all the time for help. I sent him a text, and he was like, “Actually, I don’t do that anymore.” He went on to explain how he had launched an entirely new, amazing career in web development by getting a certificate at a place called GA. So as someone who has dedicated her career to education and deeply believes in impact, that is a long-winded way of saying I’m super excited to be here and have been a fan for a very long time.

Jake: One question we always ask our employees when they join the company at our “team lunch” gatherings, is who was your favorite teacher you ever had, and why? 

Lisa: My mother was a teacher who actually taught me how to read at home. And that was marvelous. She’s definitely the teacher that has had the biggest influence on my life. Outside of her, it’s a tie between my music teacher and history teacher. The music teacher, because he created the model that I hope I use now, which is giving feedback with kindness, understanding how to help people get better, and giving critical feedback in a humane way. And then, the history teacher helped form my brain’s ability to recognize patterns. History is about pattern recognition. How do you balance between applying what you know to be true and successful, while also staying open to new input, new information, and being agile? 

Jake: I don’t know how many CEO transitions have happened during a worldwide pandemic. At GA, we’ve had quite a journey converting everything from offline to online in a matter of days. It’s such a unique moment, and I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the opportunity for GA, and how we think about our role at this moment where everything seems in flux. 

Lisa: There is a genuine, legitimate need for what we’re doing right now. Yet, there are businesses out there trying to figure out what to push into the universe. I don’t want to be in that kind of business in a world where there is no shortage of needs. Why bother producing things where you have to invent or create demand? 

In a world where there is no shortage of needs, particularly for people who are trying to get a rung on the economic ladder, for people who recently lost their employment or are in industries that have completely collapsed, our core mission to help people find meaningful work is legitimately useful and in need right now. 

I also want to say one other thing about this moment, and about business in general. I just don’t see the point in coming to work and ignoring that the world is on fire. I’ve got to believe I’m not the only person in the universe who wakes up in the morning and starts “doom-scrolling” through the news. There’s no point (in) trying to shut that off for the workday. What I say all the time is that business leaders have a choice in “a world on fire”: we have a choice to be arsonists, bystanders or firefighters, and only one of those is the right choice. Businesses won’t solve all the universe’s problems, but we need to acknowledge that we are in a moment where the communities and customers we serve are experiencing a public health crisis, layered on top of a climate crisis, layered on top of inequitable distribution of wealth and opportunity. We need to ask ourselves how we can be thoughtfully and strategically helpful. 

We need to ask ourselves how we can ensure that the world is getting better as we get bigger and better. That’s a healthy question all businesses should be asking right now.

Free Lesson: UX Design Essentials in 30 Minutes

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Why are UX skills continually in demand by top companies? Spend half an hour with expert GA instructor Javi Calderon to learn why and see if it’s right for your career. He’ll give you an overview of:

  • What the world of UX design encompasses and why it matters.
  • Fundamental tools and techniques used by professional designers.
  • Resources to continue learning about UX.

If you’re ready to go further, explore our upcoming User Experience Design course to cement a foundation in creating digital experiences that power revenue, loyalty, and product success.Or learn how to become a job-ready UX designer with our 12-week, full-time User Experience Design Immersive program.

Dive Deeper Into UX

Upgraded: Our Evening + 1-Week UX & Visual Design Programs

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This month, GA is rolling out major improvements to our evening and 1-week User Experience Design and Visual Design programs! Driven by student and instructor feedback, the Instructional Design team has partnered with the expert faculty members from our Product Advisory Boards to revamp both courses. With InVision reporting that 70% of design teams have increased headcount over the past year1, we want to help you reach your career goals by providing expertly crafted lessons in UX and visual design that meet the moment.

What’s Changing With User Experience Design?

Leveraging the Design Framework in Lesson Design

In analyzing student and instructor feedback, we learned that we weren’t spending enough time on the “How? behind creating UX deliverables at the beginning of the course. Instead of following a typical lesson flow that starts with overarching definitions of design thinking, user research, prototyping, and critique, we now leverage the Double Diamond framework2 to inform lesson progression. By observing the iterative nature of design in our curriculum, students will be able to start user research by Week 1 and begin sketching their designs as early as Week 2, working through the UX design process more than once throughout the course.

Flexible, Accessible Design Tooling

Our Instructional Design team works to strike a good balance between instruction and innovation, and this is evident in how we approach teaching design tools. 

On the one hand, too much emphasis on tools at the beginning of a course can shift the students’ focus away from truly grasping foundational design concepts and skills. On the other, it’s difficult to illustrate how a more technical concept can be applied without the use of design tools. 

In addition to that balance, we also want to account for the fact that different employers require different tools — and the top design tools can change from year to year. So, our end goal is to ensure that our students are well-versed and well-practiced in core skills so that they can easily pick up different tools as required by their employers. 

Our solution is to introduce a design tool tutorial — a companion to the course materials — with resources and weekly design challenges. The tutorial currently features Figma but can be modified to feature another platform such as Sketch or Adobe XD. The tutorial is also mapped to the course’s final project to make pacing and time spent outside of class more manageable and productive. 

Project Choices

The final project now has three specialization tracks: Research, UI, and Generalist. This enables students to customize their learning experience based on personal and professional interests, career focus, and available time. 

See the New Syllabus

What’s Changing With Visual Design?

Leveraging the Design Framework in Lesson Design

We’re using the Double Diamond framework in our Visual Design course to group visual design concepts in a way that illustrates the discipline’s iterative nature and more organically integrates UX concepts throughout the program.

Diverse Projects

We improved the final project prompts to include a broader range of industries, including food, nonprofit, fitness, and connected homes. The company structures and product offerings have also been expanded to account for visual design in both digital and non-digital spaces. This way, students will be able to choose and customize projects that benefit both their career focus and their personal interests. 

Lesson Emphasis

We have reworked the curriculum to place more emphasis on design research and content strategy. This will help encourage students to:

  • Make research-based design decisions.
  • Tell a  holistic story through content.
  • Think more critically about content types and design elements before wireframing begins.

By popular demand, we’re bringing back the course’s imagery lesson and incorporating an additional application-focused imagery session so that students can further refine their wireframes using images, as well as typography and color.

See the New Syllabus

1InVision, 2019 Product Design Hiring Report
2Design Council, What is the framework for innovation? Design Council’s evolved Double Diamond

Free Lesson: Data Science Essentials in Under 30 Minutes

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Demand for data scientists has increased 663% in five years, and the call for machine learning skills is up 809%.* In this free lesson, GA instructor Danny Malter will give you a better understanding of data science, including:

  • What data science skills could do for your career.
  • Examples of how data science impacts the real world.
  • Algorithms in action.

When you’re ready to go further, explore our upcoming Data Science course to cement your foundation in machine learning, predictive models, and Python programming. Or get inspired by these resources:

  • What does a data scientist do all day?
  • How one GA data science alum went from barista to analyst (and a threefold pay increase)
  • Get a beginner’s guide to machine learning, Python, and SQL
Dive Deeper Into Data Science

*Burning Glass, The Hybrid Job Economy. The study covers the time period of 2013–2018.