#LifeAtGA Category Archives - General Assembly Blog | Page 9

The Year of Opportunity: A Look Back at 2014



It’s no mystery that the tech industry’s predominantly white and Asian male workforce is in danger of alienating an increasingly diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base. Less than a quarter of people employed in computer science- and engineering-related fields are women, and only 1 in 10 are minority women. African Americans make up less than 3% of all scientists and engineers, and Hispanics only 4%.

At the same time, startups and tech companies are witnessing a never-before-seen shortage of employable talent. Current estimates show that by 2020, traditional universities will only be producing enough qualified graduates to fill 30% of available tech-related jobs.

That’s why we created Opportunity Fund, a new program at General Assembly that provides scholarships, hands-on-training, and career opportunities to underrepresented groups around the world.

Since launching in April, Opportunity Fund has evolved into a passionate group of Benefactors and mission-aligned nonprofits supporting a more diverse and inclusive tech industry:

With the continued support of our growing list of Benefactors, we’ve been able to award 21 fellowships in 2014, with that number significantly growing in the coming year.

The overwhelming success of our pilot program in NYC enabled us to expand Opportunity Fund to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and now includes scholarships for two of our flagship full-time programs, Web Development Immersive and User Experience Design Immersive. We’ve also increased our scope to include women and minorities anywhere in the world who want to learn design to have a positive social impact on the world.

Not surprisingly, 100% of our first batch of Fellows to graduate are already in new jobs and passing on their knowledge to the next generation of innovators in tech. 

2014 was just the beginning for Opportunity Fund, and we still have a long way to go. We are thrilled by the initial support we have received and the impact we have been able to make in just a few short months, and hope that you’ll continue to follow our journey in 2015!

How Mentoring Made Me a Better Programmer


Alex mentoring image

Alexandra with her buddy

I entered my first day as a programming mentor just as timidly as I had when I first started General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive back in June. After finishing the 12-week program, I was confident that I knew a lot about programming, but I was not-so-confident that I could pass on my knowledge to impressionable children.

However, as an Opportunity Fund Fellow with GA, I agreed to volunteer 100+ hours to mentor youth to impart the valuable skills that I learned during WDI, so mentoring was part of the deal, whether I was nervous or not. Luckily, the kids at CoderDojo weren’t nearly as scary as I’d thought, and I picked up mentoring right away.

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Designing for Exponential Impact on Diversity in Tech


Mercedes Bent

Mercedes Bent is the Global Director of New Ventures at General Assembly

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on diversity in the tech world, primarily on the need to bridge the gender gap by making tech a more available and welcoming industry for women and men of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

As a Black woman working at a tech education startup, I’m thrilled that these conversations are happening. Reading through statements by companies promising to make diversity a top agenda item, I’ve seen the appalling statistics: Only 24% of engineers graduating from undergrad are female, only 1% of all startup founders are Black, and so on. Great organizations have sprung up to address the dearth of underrepresented groups in tech including: Girl Develop It, Code2040, AllStarsCode, Black Girls Code, and Railsbridge, to name a few.

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General Assembly and United Purpose Host The Hero’s Ball This Halloween


heros ball

Join General Assembly and United Purpose and for a night of intelligent debauchery as we celebrate our heroes with purpose and panache. Come dressed as your greatest inspiration, real or fictional. Yes, Mr. Peabody counts.

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A New Initiative: The GA Credentialing Network



Since General Assembly’s founding, we’ve seen that both students and employers need a clear, unbiased way to gauge candidates’ skill sets. For years now, our talented curriculum team has worked at building more and more effective internal assessments to help our students and instructors understand and learn from the progress made and skills achieved in our programs. Today we are announcing our intention to make that work more public and useful beyond our own walls. After building a network of more than 150,000 instructors, students, alumni, and employers around the world, and several years of truly global and hands-on experience delivering world-class education in practical skills, this is the next logical step for our community, and for the ecosystem at large.

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General Assembly Partners with Dave McClure to Bring Design Education to Women and Minorities



ux opportunity fundA little over five months ago, General Assembly announced the creation of Opportunity Fund, an innovative scholarship program aimed at providing transformative education and career opportunities to underrepresented groups.

The positive response has been overwhelming, both from partners like Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Alexis Ohanian, and others (even NAS!) pitching in to support the initiative and get involved, and from the numerous student applications submitted from around the globe. This enthusiasm from our community led us to take our initial pilot program in New York and expand it to San Francisco and Los Angeles this past summer.

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Financing Available for All General Assembly Courses


cut costs

At General Assembly, we are creating a global community of individuals empowered to pursue work they love through education and opportunities in business, technology, and design.

Achieving this vision means removing roadblocks that prevent you from following your dreams, which is why we’re happy to announce we’ve teamed up with Skills FundEarnest and Climb, three financing partners who can offer qualified students one to five-year payment plans to help pay for our part-time or immersive courses (terms dependent on the lender).

Education is an investment – you should be able to pay as you begin earning your return on investment.

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Why We Need More Veterans in Technology



Gary Sinise recently penned an article in the Huffington Post. Perhaps best known for playing wounded veteran Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump, the actor and philanthropist is also an amazing stage actor and a founding member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. But it’s the Lt. Dan role that changed his life, inspired a band (yes, the Lt. Dan Band,) and made him a supporter of and an advocate for America’s veterans. In the article, Sinise makes the case for training veterans for high-end manufacturing jobs. His group, the Get Skills to Work coalition, is designed to help connect veterans to colleges and companies across the country, looking to train individuals in the manufacturing field.

Sinise is right. America needs skilled people to do these jobs and veterans with the right training would be excellent candidates. But why stop at manufacturing? The same case should be made for helping veterans learn digital skills and computer programming. Now is the time to put resources and support behind training veterans for the most in-demand jobs through adult learning programs.

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Teaching Methodology: Questioning and Rigor


A common question that new instructors at GA ask is, “How can I ensure that I’m breaking a technical concept down well for students?”  That’s hard and often learned in the role, over and over again. For our instructors who have taught multiple programs at GA, one underlying idea is that systematically building up the rigor of student questioning, tasks and assignments helps prevent confusion and pushes students to maximize their learning.

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General Assembly Instructional Growth Hackers


When Sean Ellis coined the term growth hacker, he defined it as “a person whose true north is growth.” Likewise, instructors joining General Assembly frequently list professional growth as a key objective in taking on their new role.  In addition to diversifying their expertise, our instructors are dedicated to fostering a new crop of technologists, designers, and leaders.  Helping to transform what you – the instructors – know into experiences that maximize student learning is where GA’s Instructional Coaches come in.

Consider us your instructional growth hackers, where growth equals increased student learning and extended teaching skills.  We’re part of the instructional team because we are also teachers.  Coaches are experienced in pedagogical methods such as student engagement strategies, objective-driven planning, and learning assessments.  We focus on teaching high-impact, low-barrier practices you can integrate into your classroom routines.  Recognizing that each instructor has their own teaching style and expertise, our ultimate goal is to help you level up and transform your career by learning instructional skills to improve your effectiveness in the classroom and beyond.

Come to a Coach when you need:

  • Professional feedback on a lesson – before, during, or after it is taught
  • Strategies for student engagement
  • Methods for assessing learning
  • Advice from an experienced teacher
  • Training and development in instructional best practices

Currently, Coaches are represented in New York by Damien DeCuir, in San Francisco by Jessie Slocum, in Los Angeles Jenny Wyss, and in Boston by Anna Tsykalova.

As we build a robust network of experienced faculty, these veteran Instructor Fellows provide a wealth of content specific knowledge and classroom tactics to share with other instructors.

At the global level, the Instructor Development Team is also here to support you and is comprised of Chelsea Byers, Carolyn Wakulchik, and Charmaine Lacsina.  This team can help you by:

  • Listening to your feedback and recommending ways to help you enjoy your roles and grow as teachers
  • Training for anyone who creates course materials, and instructional design best practices in general
  • Creating internal products that make the instructor experience better

Instructors, we are here for support as you transform your knowledge by gaining instructional skills to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom and beyond!