Out of every 100 employees in the technology sector, between six and seven are Hispanic, according to figures from two of the largest companies in the sector, Google and Microsoft. Within that minority, 25% of the people who work in technology are women. It is on this diversity gap and in the middle of the transition to the digital world that the technology sector demands talent. Laboratory, founded in 2014 in Peru by Mariana costa, was born with the mission of training software developers of Hispanic origin for the technology sector.
Within the framework of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 and which celebrates the contributions of people of Hispanic origin in the United States, we present this interview with Ofelia Reyes, bootcamp manager of Laboratoria México.
Laboratoria is a kind of academy for women seeking a career in the technology sector. His model consists of offering the student an intensive six-month course, at the end of which he places her in a company that requires female developers. The course, known as bootcampIt has no initial cost for the applicant, but pays it once she gets a job. 2,000 women have graduated from Laboratoria, which had its first headquarters in Lima, although it currently trains developers in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
The vision of Mariana Costa, which contributes to the inclusion of Hispanic and female talent in a sector where Latinos – and especially Hispanics – are a minority, was worth it in 2016 an acknowledgment of the now former president Barack Obama. A year later, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named her one of the most influential people under 35 years of age. The last recognition of his vision was an appearance in the comic Wonderful Women of the World edited by DC Comics, where her work is equated with that of Wonder Woman.
What a great honor to see the story of @Laboratory in the wonder women of the world edition of @DCComics. + women working in technology is also + women building the future of our Latin America. We will continue chambeando so that soon we will be thousands more👩🏽💻! pic.twitter.com/hqCByAyMID
& mdash; Mariana Costa Checa (@mcostach) October 1, 2021
In 2021, already with COVID-19 immersed in everyday life, Ofelia Reyes, bootcamp manager of Laboratoria México, tells Digital Trends in Spanish how the pandemic led Laboratoria to a new reinvention and explains why the demand for technological talent will continue to rise in the coming years, with an emphasis on the Latin American technology sector, where, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, 1 million software specialists will be required between 2022 and 2025.
Question (Q): Did the pandemic change your educational model?
Answer (R): Yes, of course, although the model still has the same principles. It is a project-based methodology, based on agile culture, with a focus on technical skills but also skills. soft skills, such as teamwork or managing uncertainty.
The pandemic made us migrate to a 100% remote model. We had previous experiences, a part of our selection process simulated a week of the bootcamp in remote mode, but now the six months of the course are like this. It brought advantages. Today our team in Mexico is made up of people who live in different countries with different sociocultural contexts and who greatly expand the quality of the experience. The bootcamp had about 20 or 30 mentors external to Laboratoria who advise, with the remote modality that number grew to almost 120 people, that is because there is no longer a logistical limit, you just have to connect a zoom call and try to be aligned with the objectives.
(P): Laboratoria emerged at a time when bootcamp they were a novel model. Now they have become common, in addition to their gender perspective, what distinguishes Laboratoria?
(R): One of our main differentiators is that we place the same importance on the development of technical skills as on life skills, the so-called soft skills. This approach is recognized by the hiring companies, which in the feedback they give us is that our graduates have an outstanding profile in these skills.
Another differentiator is our employability. Not all bootcamps assume the responsibility of accompanying graduates in their search for employment. Our graduates pay the bootcamp when they are hired, and we make sure not only to connect them with the best opportunities, but we also have a very personalized task of finding the ideal place for them to stand out.
Also, our model is self paced, each student goes at her own pace. Before we took them on the same path, now we understand that the best learning is that which is individualized. If a student has a faster pace, she does not have to wait for the rest of the group to finish. We also understand the needs of each one, a single mother student who works is not the same as a single woman who has a truncated career and more time availability; we individualize the experience to offer the same opportunities to women in diverse contexts.
(P): How did the pandemic affect the demand for tech talent?
(R): The first three months after March 2020 were very uncertain. There were recruitment processes that stopped, companies had to prioritize certain areas and the hiring of junior talent, which is the one that graduates from Laboratoria, stopped, but the reality is that after three or four months it began to reactivate. The employability of the generation nine took us more months, but we still achieved the best percentage of employability, almost 91% when the regional average is 83%, thus the challenge became an opportunity.
Above, we find new hiring allies. We usually work with the technology and financial sector, but others joined, services and health for example. Also education derived from the transition to online education due to the pandemic.
(P): What is the main contribution of female talent to the technology sector?
(R): Beyond talking about gender, diversity in the talent of organizations ensures that there is plurality in the way they face the solution to different needs. Women are half the population, but we are underrepresented in practically all sectors. But if we participate, then we ensure, yes, innovation, productivity and competitiveness, but also the approach that characterizes us women, we make the culture of organizations safe spaces, where the different perspective and where the error is something desirable in order to favor the learning.
Laboratoria offers two bootcamps or intensive technology development courses. One specializes in development front end and the other in ux design. Applications are open for the offices of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico with the following deadlines for the receipt of applications:
Santiago, Chile: applications close, October 10; start of bootcamp, November 17
Mexico: applications close, November 7; start of bootcamp, January 5, 2022
Bogotá, Colombia: applications close, October 31; start of bootcamp, January 10, 2022
Lima, Peru: applications close, December 5; start of bootcamp, January 26, 2022