Category Archives: #LifeAtGA

Servant Leadership: From Coast Guard to Education

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Scott Kirkpatrick General Assembly President Veteran

While on active duty in 1997, GA President and COO Scott Kirkpatrick served as a military social aide to President Bill Clinton in the White House.

To honor our veterans, we’ve compiled a series of interviews with General Assembly staff, students, and alumni that celebrates their time in the service, explores how they found a new career in tech, and reflects on the life and leadership lessons they learned along the way.

Our first story is by Scott Kirkpatrick, General Assembly’s president and COO. If you are a veteran interested in boosting your career through General Assembly’s programs, learn about our discounts here and GI Bill® eligibility here.

Veterans Day is always a time of reflection and pride for me, and I always love to speak with other veterans about their military experiences. For me, my military career started when I chose to attend college at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. My father served as a soldier in the Vietnam War, and he always taught me to do things bigger than myself. That value was the inspiration for me to attend the Coast Guard Academy instead of “normal” college.

The mission of the Coast Guard is to save lives, and I was drawn to the humanitarian aspect of the service. I had no idea what I was getting into when I stepped onto campus for a summerlong bootcamp. It was a surreal experience in which the cadre shaved off my long hair, required me to square every corner and sleep with my rifle, and allowed only three responses: “Yes, sir/ma’am,” “No sir/ma’am,” or “No excuse sir/ma’am.” It was an intense summer, but I quickly learned the value of teamwork, respect, and perseverance. I relied on my classmates to get through extremely challenging and intimidating experiences — and those classmates are still close friends today.

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What’s the Difference Between Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity?

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Diversity Equity Inclusion Distinction

The often-used terms diversity, equity, and inclusion have distinct meanings. Here’s why that matters, and how they work together.

Diversity. Inclusion. Equity. These words and the issues they point to loom large in tech. It’s hard to go a week without reading an article about a company touting its dedication to diversity, while another is called out for tolerating oppressive comments and workplace practices.

From 2014–2016, Google spent $265 million to increase its diversity numbers (to little avail), a number that has become even more well known after the company recently fired an employee who wrote a memo against diversity efforts. In a 2017 survey of tech employees, 72% reported that diversity and inclusion was important to their company. In another report, which surveyed over 700 startup founders, 45% of respondents reported that they talked about diversity and inclusion internally in the last year. The majority of participants in that survey believe that the tech industry’s employee makeup will be representative of the U.S. population in 2030, though that’s a far cry from where we are now.

With all this talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in tech, there is no better time to dig deep and establish shared, fundamental understandings of these terms and their meanings. In my work as a DEI facilitator working with tech companies and in many less formal conversations, I’ve found that there’s widespread confusion. People get tripped up not only on definitions, but on how to use these terms to create goals and action plans for themselves and their organizations. When we can’t get on the same page, we can’t take the next step. So let’s start at the beginning and create a shared understanding of DEI together.

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We Stand With the LGBTQ+ Community

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LGBTQ Work Protection Statement

Individuals thrive professionally and personally when they can live openly and without fear. The strength and security of our communities — and economy — depends on it.

At General Assembly, we’re in the business of empowering people to pursue work they love and careers that allow them to realize their passions. We’re also big believers that when people bring their whole selves to work — and all the identities, experiences, and ideas that make them unique — they’re more productive, engaged, and innovative.

Apparently, the Department of Justice doesn’t agree. On the heels of the president’s surprise ban on transgender service members in the military, on July 26 the Department of Justice issued a brief that states that Title VII — the law that protects workers from sex discrimination — does not extend to the LGBTQ+ community.

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General Assembly’s Global Community

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General Assembly is an international community, made up of over 1 million technologists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, and creators from all over the world. GA was was founded on a global vision of the world that represents how people today work and live — and it’s clear that the future of tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship will only reach its full potential through a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Our community gathers at many of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, like Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Sydney, and Toronto. We strive to ensure that the GA community is not just a reflection of the world today, but of the world we want to see in the future.

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Inside the U.S. Defense Department’s New Tech Startup (P.S. They’re Hiring)

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Defense Digital Service Eric Fanning Army Chris Lynch

Former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning (left) announces the creation of the Army Digital Service at a recent event at General Assembly’s NYC headquarters, alongside Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch and journalist Jeff Jarvis. Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Crisp.

National security and cybersecurity are growing concerns for many Americans, especially as talk of hacking and digital espionage dominate headlines and rattle daily life. Protecting the country and developing tools to keep citizens safe are top priorities for the U.S. government, and, in recent years, it has turned to top tech talent to rapidly innovate, problem solve, and find security vulnerabilities. This is particularly true within the Department of Defense, whose progress its staffers admit has been slowed down by outdated tools and processes that lag behind private tech companies’ capabilities.

That’s where Defense Digital Service (DDS) comes in. Since launching in late 2015, the program — a branch of the government’s tech startup, U.S. Digital Service (USDS) — has worked on projects involving cybersecurity, veterans’ medical records, cutting-edge GPS systems, and more. DDS’ cybersecurity initiatives Hack the Pentagon and Hack the Army (known as bug bounties) invited civilian hackers to search for vulnerabilities within five public-facing government websites, then rewarded them in cash for their findings.

Now the Army has its own dedicated team called Army Digital Service, which launched in December. Continuing the pioneering work of DDS, it will leverage tech expertise to solve inefficiencies related to Army recruiting, veteran affairs, and more. Earlier this month, Air Force Digital Service launched as well, and the team’s agenda is currently in the works.

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A Year in Review Part 2: Diversity, Access, and Social Impact

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General Assembly Social Good Black Girls Code Workplace Diversity

This year we partnered with Black Girls Code to increase access to STEM education. Photo courtesy of Black Girls Code.

With a mission to close the global skills gap and help people pursue work they love, General Assembly strives to create opportunities that impact a vast range of communities.

This year, we were proud to voice our support for access to education and inclusive hiring in the media. We spoke out about promoting computer science education through the Computer Science for All Initiative, and released a white paper on skills-based hiring. We partnered with many innovative organizations to make a difference in the tech sector, launching new campaigns and programs to promote equality in startup funding, champion computer science education for kids, help New Yorkers get well-paying data jobs, and much more.

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A Year In Review, Part 1: New Campuses, Courses, and Corporate Training

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General Assembly Campus Expansion 2016

General Assembly students at our NYC campus.

Let’s get straight to the point: 2016 has been huge for General Assembly. We’ve expanded our global community into new cities and launched beautiful, new campuses in locations where we’re already thriving. Our catalog of full-time Immersive programs grew exponentially, with four new courses that are transforming graduates’ careers in competitive tech fields around the globe. We also released our first audited student outcomes report, a detailed read that takes a close look at our Immersive graduates’ key demographics and job placement success rates. (Spoiler alert: they’re great.)

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General Assembly Joins Tech Gives Back in National Day of Service

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Tech Gives Back General Assembly 2016

Members of the General Assembly community in New York get their hands dirty in the Bronx for Tech Gives Back.

Earlier this fall, about two dozen of General Assembly’s New York employees stepped away from their desks to visit two schools in the Bronx. Most of the group got their hands dirty by gardening, painting a mural, and setting up a new greenhouse at P.S. 30 Wilton School, while the rest helped students at P.S. 171 Patrick Henry pitch business ideas.

They joined more than 250 volunteers across the country — including GA employees in San Francisco — in donating more than 1,000 hours of service in one day as part of Tech Gives Back. The annual service event brings together tech companies across the country to provide much-needed help to local organizations.

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Behind the Scenes With GA’s Chalk Artist + New Boston Campus

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General Assembly Chalk Murals Obama NYC Casey Opstad

Chalk artist Casey Opstad with his mural of President Barack Obama at GA’s New York City headquarters.

When you set foot in any of General Assembly’s campuses around the globe, one of the first things you’ll notice is the prominence of chalk art. Each campus has vivid murals of local innovators, from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in New York, to early computer programmer Ada Lovelace in London, to civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta.

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General Assembly and Adobe Team Up to Bring New Talent to the Tech World

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General Assembly Adobe Digital Academy

Adobe Digital Academy students on the General Assembly campus in San Francisco

General Assembly is proud to be partnering with Adobe in the development of the Adobe Digital Academy, a Bay Area–based program focused on offering opportunities in technology to underrepresented communities. Adobe supports high-potential candidates through partnership with General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund and Adobe technical internships. Selected candidates receive Opportunity Fund scholarships for General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI) course followed by a three-month technical internship in Adobe’s offices, with the goal of hiring interns for a full-time position.

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