How Color Coded Labs Improves Diversity in Tech
- What if it took months, not years, to become a coder?
- What if learning how to code opened up a new career in technology for a person who lost their minimum wage job?
- What if the people in those new careers started a culture shift in the tech industry?
These questions sum up the promise and opportunity that Columbus visionaries founded Color Coded Labs to meet.
The Tech Industry Wants Diversity
Color Coded Labs provides training to people from underserved and historically marginalized communities. Anyone is welcome. Color Coded Labs makes possible significant earnings boosts through delivering in-demand technology skills and career pathways.
“The other cofounders and I share a motivation to help people get access to this incredible tech economy that we have had access to,” CEO Doug McCollough said.
As CIO of Dublin, OH, McCollough has worked his entire career connecting people to opportunities and promoting change initiatives from Smart and Connected Cities to IT Workforce Development. Co-founder of Black Tech Columbus, McCollough is also on the boards of TECH CORPS, Per Scholas Columbus, and Jewish Family Services of Columbus.
“When you look at a community that has not been able to participate in an economy,” he said, “you have to ask what is different. The more we look, the more we understand that technical skills make all the difference in the world. The demand for technical skills forces a company to overlook differences. If you can write code, you can be in demand. Skills are so in-demand that doors that wouldn’t otherwise open are opening.”
How Color Coded Labs Works
Color Coded Labs is a 16-week tech boot camp uniquely designed to make coding skills and other technical skills available to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access. Students can learn at their own pace at home while staying accountable during in-person sessions.
Color Coded Labs is currently recruiting and pre-screening for the first cohort of students. They may learn about Color Coded Labs from an agency or organization that is helping them find a job. Color Coded Labs is also creating awareness through social media, targeted advertising, and internet video. Color Coded Labs has an admissions specialist whose job is to talk to people who express interest.
“The agency will ask, have you ever considered coding,” said McCollough, “and someone might say. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t have the skills, and I don’t know where I would start.”
That’s the beginning of a conversation about Color Coded Labs.
Color Coded Labs Is All About Removing Barriers to Entry, from Finances to Fears
“This is a key aspect,” McCollough said. “Everyone does not have the same outlook and fears and concerns about starting a coding career. We have people who look like the people who are considering this program to ask questions and have trust. This might be the first Black or brown person they have seen working in tech. They may think there is a stigma and have fears.”
Color Coded Labs’ method removes barriers to entry, with flexible schedules, co-working access and a new laptop for every student, and income share agreements (without interest or penalties) that students can repay in installments after they graduate and are in a job that pays a minimum of $40,000 per year.
Curriculum Built for What’s Needed
“There are people quite capable of going to college but feel that college is not for them,” McCollough said. “Our environment includes the support to help them enjoy what they are doing and thrive.”
The Color Coded Labs model has a lead instructor who delivers instruction and intense lessons which are purpose-focused. There is an intense in-front-of-your-screen activity with the opportunity for students to engage with teaching assistants.
Coding languages change all the time. Color Coded Labs works with hiring partners and online curriculum centers to equip graduates with the skills most needed in the marketplace. And what doesn’t change? The average starting salary for coders of $50,000 per year or more.
Color Coded Labs Uses Networking and Mentoring to Help Graduates Get Jobs
Every student is connected to a mentor online to help with the coursework and a mentor to be their in-person guide. There will be someone to push and encourage, to answer questions, and listen to concerns. Students may have had jobs before, but probably not the layering of jobs that creates a strong income career.
Just as restaurants and retail businesses are laying off scores of people, the tech industry can’t hire fast enough.
“This is a two-sided story,” McCollough said. “On the one side, we get people into the pipeline, and on the other side, we help companies fill that pipeline. There are successful boot camps already churning out people, but those people are not diverse. The industry wants diversity. We started Color Coded Labs to meet that demand.”
Color Coded Labs can help close the wage gap in this country and increase the number of people of color working, leading, and founding companies in the tech industry.