In response to those companies, hiring managers, interviewers who keep asking the same question:

Where can I find great developers?

A developer becomes a “great developer” when the company, team, resources, projects, recognition, etc., are compatible with that person. Under that logic, I believe any programmer can be great if they desire to do so and find the environment and motivation to thrive.

Most technical interviews fail to find the right people because interviewers and hiring managers usually go at it with an “idea” of what a “great developer” looks like to them. In most cases, everyone ends up hiring people who don’t work out and miss out on people who could have become the “great developers” there were looking for in the first place.

Everyone is naturally biased, but when hiring and promoting people, we want to avoid our bias to eliminate discriminatory actions. In 2016, an article from the Harvard Business Review reported the following:

“When sociologist Lauren Rivera interviewed bankers, lawyers, and consultants, they reported that they commonly looked for someone like themselves in interviews. Replicating ourselves in hiring contributes to the prevalent gender segregation of jobs, with, for example, male bankers hiring more male bankers and female teachers hiring more female teachers.”

What can we do to make sure we hire a diverse team and avoid being bias during the recruitment and interviewing phase? One way to avoid this is to make sure you offer interviews to candidates based on merits and nothing else. A good start is to expand your personal network to increase the candidate pipeline with more women, people of color, and other underrepresented minorities. With a wider and more diverse pipeline, you can then focus on selecting people based on merits and nothing else.

Be blind

We need to be blind to information such as names, age, gender, or any other information that isn’t experience or skills. Companies like Applied, Blendoor, Edge, GapJumpers, Interviewing.io, Paradigm, and Talent Sonar offer services to help you remove this information from applicant tracking systems to avoid any sort of bias. These services these companies offer can be integrated with existing candidate tracking applications to remove information that can cause discriminatory actions.

Structured interviews

Being blind to some of the candidate’s information is a good start, but it isn’t the final solution. After the initial process of qualifying candidates based on merit, you’ll want to interview the candidates in person, phone, or a video call. In order to do this and remove any bias, you should have a well-defined and structured interview process. Make sure you ask all candidates the same questions, and in the same order, and encourage the interviewers to rate each answer as soon as the candidate answers the question. Standardizing this process will allow for clear comparisons between all candidates and leave very little room for bias.

Avoid group interviews

Another thing to consider is avoiding panel or group interviews altogether. For once, it is difficult to diversify the interview panel and there isn’t any data that proves that a panel or group interviews result in better hires. People interviewing candidates should be independent of each other to get the benefit of a personal and unique perspective about a candidate. After interviewing a candidate, submit their assessment before meeting with others to discuss the applicant. Individual interviews will allow you to collect multiple data points and different perspectives instead of one data point from a group of interviewers.

Work-sample exercises instead of resumes

Resumes are really not a good resource to determine if a person has the skills and experience for a job. Work-sample exercises require applicants to perform tasks or work activities that mirror the tasks employees perform on the job. Prepare work-sample exercises that candidates can use to demonstrate their know-how. To make these work-sample exercises and its results unbiased, do not include the name, gender, age, race, or any other unneeded information about the candidate.

The above suggestions can help eliminate some of the biases, but it will not stop all of our shortcomings. This isn’t perfect but it is a good start to help reduce our biases which can then lead to discriminatory actions.

Want to learn more and participate in our Diversity in Tech Meetup? Please join our meetup and attend an event if you are in Austin, TX.

Image credit: Gary Waters/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

 

Last month I wrote about the need of sponsoring more women and minorities in tech. The post was inspired by a tweet from Lara Hogan and it also inspired the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX.

Why aren’t there more blacks and Hispanics in tech? The reason to me is quite simple because there aren’t enough people of color in tech leadership roles. That is why. It isn’t difficult to find people of color who have the skills and passion. However, if you are not involved with blacks and Hispanics, of course, it will be difficult to find them, I grew with them, I hang out with them, they are my friends, they are my family, and I am one of them.

There is also the idea that the problem has to do with not enough black and Hispanic students graduating with tech degrees. This isn’t true. While the percentage of black and Hispanic students majoring in computer science and engineering is lower than that of white and Asian students, the truth is that the number of black and Hispanic students hired by tech companies is much lower than the number of them graduating from college with tech degrees.

Those who enter the candidate pipeline fall out somewhere along the way — and the culture and recruiting methods of tech companies seem to have a lot to do with it. — The New York Times

The issue is that blacks and Hispanics who enter the candidate pipeline, fall through the cracks somewhere along the way. You see, the issue for many of these candidates is the lack of other black and Hispanic people in tech companies. Most people do not feel comfortable being the only one person in the team who isn’t like the others. This also affects women, the number of women in tech jobs is also very low when compared to that of white men.

If companies want to increase the diversity in their teams and want to hire more blacks and Hispanics, they need to do it from the start instead of doing it as an afterthought. For established companies, they should seriously consider hiring blacks and Hispanics into tech leadership positions, it will be an advantage for these companies. You see, as minorities, diversity comes naturally to us. It is what we know, it is our life. When we think of minorities, we think of people who are in fact, the majority of people in our lives.

At the Diversity in Tech Meetups, most attendees are black, Hispanic, and Asian. About half of them are women. And a good percentage have identified as LGBT. There are also people of different ages, from recent college graduates to people who have decades of experience in the workforce. It is a very diverse group.

Most black and Hispanics might feel in disadvantage when they see the small percentage of people like them who work at tech companies. I have felt like that before, but since I don’t get intimidated easily, I have been able to find a small level of success while working in tech. Most people of color don’t feel comfortable working at companies where diversity isn’t embraced, and the numbers are there to confirm it.

This is why we should hire more people of color in tech, and into leadership positions. We want more blacks and Hispanics to feel welcome when they obtain a position in tech. And to help them stay, we have to provide a diverse environment in which they and everyone else can thrive. This is one-way companies can help to start changing their workforce and their culture into something that it is more diverse.

More color, and diversity, in general, is good for business.

This past weekend I attended the 2016 Diversity Hackathon organized by Women Who Code Austin. This event was a 3-day hackathon and a celebration of diversity. This type of event sparks my curiosity and creativity in a very particular way. There are always constraints of time, resources, equipment and space. And yet, somehow people at these events create interesting applications. It is very exciting and motivating to be part of a hackathon.

Photo: 2016 Diversity Hackathon
ATX Diversity Hackathon 2016

 

These events usually start with a networking meeting where hackathon participants have an opportunity to talk about their ideas, listen to other people’s ideas and to form new teams. The networking is also a good ice-breaker, and it helps participants feel a bit more relaxed and comfortable, knowing they’ll be working surrounded by strangers for up to three days.

Many people participate in hackathons as an opportunity to try a new programming language or framework. Others are looking to start a startup and see a hackathon as the perfect place to create a prototype of their app and perhaps even find people who can join them in their efforts. For example, I met a group of individuals who had just completed a computer programming boot camp in Austin, TX. They signed up for this hackathon to force themselves to write an application using the newly acquired knowledge and skills. One of them created a chat application using Angular, FireBase, and Bootstrap while the other group ended up creating something using Heroku, React, and MongoDB.

When I first heard of this hackathon, I noticed they were looking for mentors, and so I signed up as one. But after the second day, I didn’t have much to do, and so I decided to create a little app of my own. My goal wasn’t to use a new programming language or framework. Instead, I wanted to see what I could do with the Stack Exchange API. After brainstorming for a bit, I decided to visualize user data from StackOverflow.com on a map using the Google Maps API. The result was a fun application that lets you see where developers are in the world and what countries, states, and cities have the biggest concentration of them. I called my project, Hacker’s Map.

In the last day of the hackathon, there was a bit of chaos as the deadline to stop writing code was approaching. We had until 2:00 PM to write code and by 2:30 PM we had to send an email with a link to the app’s code repository, the app name, description, tech stack used, and some screen shots of the application. By 3:00 PM teams started demoing their project to all attendees, including a group of judges who was voting for the top 4 applications.

Everyone had a chance to explain what their app did. Each team had only a few minutes to present, so you needed to get to the point and try to show and describe your app as much as possible in just two minutes. It feels great to do a presentation under this pressure. There is something about it that I enjoy.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Three days of code, ideas, and diversity. I enjoyed mentoring, meeting people, writing code under pressure, eating sandwiches and drinking tons of coffee. I am already looking forward to the next hackathon.

If you are a new developer and are trying to get more experience under your belt, hackathons are a perfect place for this. Also, if you are an experienced developer but haven’t had a chance to participate in a hackathon, I urge you to sign up for one as soon as possible. You can take part as a hacker or a mentor. Either way, you’ll get the benefit of being surrounded by intelligent people, wanting to create something from scratch, under pressure, and with a very tight deadline. It is great, trust me. I am already looking for the next hackathon.

Many thanks to Women Who Code Austin, Capital Factory for hosting it, and everyone else involved in making this such a great event.

dream job

Have you asked yourself this question? what’s your dream job? To be honest I am not sure if I can answer this question. My dream job is really a list of things I am actually doing presently and other things I wish I could do as well.

I am curious to know what your dream job is so I created a page where you can answer this question:

http://startupinterns.co/whatisyourdreamjob

So tell me, what is your dream job?

After collecting enough answers I’ll be sending the aggregated results to the email address you use when answering the question in this page.

portfolio-2016-12-65Summer is already here and internship opportunities out there still abound. There are many job sites listing opportunities as well as job fair and hiring events organized by large size companies. Yet, internships and regular job opportunities at startup companies are difficult to find. There are smaller events such as meetups where students and startups can find each other and maybe start a relationship. These type of events might work, but they are hard to scale and don’t reach as many people as an online marketplace can. Therefore, after doing some research and testing the idea using a Google form, I decided to write some code and deploy this website. It is a new marketplace for interns and startups. (more…)

I have always been surprised by the amount of people who need each other but can’t see a way to find each other. This is the problem that online marketplaces try to resolve, some do it good and some others fail to work because they don’t gain the attraction of both suppliers and customers.

With this post, I would like to introduce you to a new marketplace that attempts to connect people looking for internships at local Startups and Small businesses and Startups looking for Interns.

Why is this needed?

I was looking around and noticed that while most large corporations have many ways to reach out to students or anyone else looking for internships – Small Business and Startups don’t have that same advantage or resources. This affects both the Startups and people looking for internships with interesting Startups or Small Businesses. (more…)