The program has $90,000 in scholarships available for SLO County residents looking for head-of-household careers

Ticket into Tech, created by SLO Partners in 2017 (a SLO County Office of Education initiative), is seeking to diversify its 2018 coding bootcamp class by offering seven scholarships to women and recent high school graduates in SLO. Two full scholarships (valued at $17,610 each) and two half-scholarships (valued at $8,805) to the SLO Fullstack Academy Software Engineering Immersive Program are available to recent graduates (two years or less) from San Luis Obispo County public high schools. One full scholarship and two half-scholarships are also available for women applicants.

Ticket into Tech was created with the mission to create 1,000 new head-of-household technology careers in the San Luis Obispo region before Diablo Canyon closes, with the belief that in order to develop innovative solutions to tomorrow’s problems, a labor force that is as diverse and innovative as the challenges it faces is needed. Women currently make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs, even though they make up more than half of the U.S. workforce. High school graduates looking to pursue a computer science degree at university additionally face fierce competition and tens of thousands in student debt. The scholarships will give recent high school graduates the chance to jumpstart their careers by receiving a fast-track education and on-the-job training for a head-of-household career. Women in the community looking for a career change or to re-enter the workforce will also have the opportunity to restart or completely reboot their career.

The recipients of the scholarships will receive a fast-track education into one of the fastest growing industries. Software engineering is currently one of the most in-demand skills in the world, with American software engineers earning a median salary of $112,000. Employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. There’s a particular need for engineers in San Luis Obispo where tech jobs have increased 20 per cent in the last five years according to California Center for Jobs and the Economy, due in large part to the bustling startup scene and larger tech firms moving into the area like Amazon.

To apply to the bootcamp and scholarships, applicants must pass the Fullstack admissions assessment. The best preparation to pass the Fullstack admissions assessment is taking the 10-hour self-paced online Fullstack bootcamp prep pre-work class. Following this, students must enroll and pass the 3.5-week Fullstack bootcamp prep course which starts on July 23 or Aug 15, and takes place online in the evenings. Upon completing the class students must then submit their applications for the Fullstack Immersive bootcamp by September 7. Students who pass and are accepted will then start their apprenticeship in fall 2018 followed by one year of paid on-the-job training, from winter 2019 through winter 2020. After completing their training, students will receive support in securing a career with a local company. Local computer science professionals will additionally be available for mentorship, coaching and support during the programs.

Michael Specchierla, Executive Director of SLO Partners (www.slopartners.org) says: “Last year’s cohort was made up of students with a variety of non-technical backgrounds. We had a security guard, a retail customer service representative, a credit union teller, a package hauller and an Anthropology graduate. All of them had skills that were valuable to the technology sector and we hope to see a similar mix of applicants for this year’s class.

“18 local companies have embraced Apprenticeship as a way to hire diverse and skilled local talent that can keep pace with the rapid changes in technology. The SLO community understands the power of learn by doing through apprenticeship. We want to expand apprenticeship in SLO to create future careers locally grown.”

Brittany McCrigler, Head of Softec Women in Tech (www.softec.org/groups/women-in-technology/) says: “Having experience in non-tech fields and projects has helped me be far more successful in a tech career. Knowing how to sew, experience as a massage therapist, and my communication skills have all directly helped me advance and solve challenges. Not only have I used these skills in ways I never expected, but they have allowed me to bring valuable perspective to my work and team. In order to innovate and push boundaries, we need people with a wide range of experiences and skills—not just tech experience.”

“Even if you’re feeling unsure or under-qualified, you should apply for this program. Not only is it a great opportunity, but you have nothing to lose. More often than not, women are far more qualified than they realize. Learning to code is no harder than learning to cook—it’s our mental attitude and doubt that keep us from realizing our full potential. The skills you gain will put you in the driver’s seat of your career and give you a role that allows you shape our technology and how we use it. “

A Ticket into Tech Apprentice says: “As a young adult I choose a career in the arts, specializing in theatre. Although it was an exciting career for many years, it was fiscally infeasible with two young children. I knew that I needed to enter a career field where I could support my family while still being able to see them, but didn’t know where to go since I had been a stay at home mom for the past three years. A background in theatre, being a stay at home mom, and being a military dependent were keeping me out of the work field, but this program saw my potential and gave me the tech skills to be successful.

“My prior experience allows me to talk to my customer, and the tech skills learned within the program allow me to complete the job successfully. The skills I learned to be successful in the entertainment industry – communication, resourcefulness, and integrity – have been a crucial asset in the tech industry. Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to make the jump back into the workforce – now I have a career in tech.”

Amy Kardel, Co-Founder of Clever Ducks (www.cleverducks.com) and board chair of CompTIA says: “Learning to code should not be the exclusive realm of white and nerdy guys in hoodie sweatshirts. Studies show over and over again that diverse teams are more innovative and solve problems faster. Applicants who have nontraditional backgrounds can advance in technical careers because tech culture is such that merits are proven by results not resumes.”

James J. Brescia, Ed.D., County Superintendent of Schools says: “My office continues to pursue grants and offer scholarships for local high school students and local high school graduates because when we invest in future careers that are locally grown the entire community realizes the benefits.”

For more information visit slopartners.org/ticket-into-tech