When the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) launched Hack.Diversity in 2016, they did so with the goal of addressing the underrepresentation of high-skilled minority employees in Boston’s tech industry. After selecting 10 UMass Boston students to represent their 2018 fellows, NEVCA may have moved several paces forward with this goal.
This is the second consecutive year that Hack.Diversity has conducted its internship-to-hire program initiative among minority students. Students were selected from a range of universities, including Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Out of the 36 students who applied for the fellowship at UMass Boston, 10 were chosen.
“It’s the largest number of students to be chosen from any university,” said UMass Boston Venture Development Center Director William Brah.
Brah serves on NEVCA’s Hack.Diversity advisory committee. He said that when designing the program, the committee wanted to ensure that tech companies could excel where they had previously faltered: recruiting.
“We knew that, in general, there was a marketing problem in recruiting tech talent, particularly in the black and Latino community,” said Brah. “I think that the need for talent is insatiable, and these companies need to learn how to recruit to find that talent in universities.”
The student fellows will each receive training, coaching, and mentoring during the program. The goal by the end of the program is for fellows to land full-time positions in the tech companies for which they have interned. Some of the Boston-based tech companies that have partnered with Hack.Diversity’s fellowship program include Carbonite, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Athenahealth, and DraftKings. The fellows will be interviewing with the different tech companies in March.
UMass Boston junior Roland Price said he was “ecstatic” when he found out that he was chosen as one of the 2018 fellows.
“Not a whole lot of opportunities existed like this before Hack.Diversity,” said Price. “Hack.Diversity is definitely a pioneer in that effort in getting people like myself into these fields and giving us the opportunity to find really potentially fulfilling careers in the IT/tech industry.”
UMass Boston senior Ariana Gardner, another 2018 fellow, said she believes that programs like Hack.Diversity are imperative for children of different backgrounds.
“From my own experience, in a lot of my classes, I’ve been one of the few African American females. I know there’s a lot of young women and young men of color who want to explore their interests without feeling like they’re going to be ostracized or different or left out,” said Gardner, whose interests lie in software development.
Price echoed this sentiment.
“I believe a lot in Hack.Diversity’s vision of getting diverse students into the field of technology, allowing them to get that experience, and allowing them to bring that talent to the field,” he said.
The following UMass Boston students were chosen as Hack.Diversity’s 2018 fellows:
- Ariana Gardner, Computer Science, CSM
- Armando Origel, IT, CM
- Maslax Ali, Computer Science, CSM
- Naeem Jones, IT, CSM
- Nawfal Cherkaoui, Computer Science, CSM
- Flavio Andrade, Computer Science, CSM
- Ricardo Dorancy, Computer Science, CSM
- Micheline Galindo, IT, CM
- Roland Price, IT, CM
- Michiele Ogbagabir, Computer Science, CSM