Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

From in-depth courses and technical mentorship, to interview prep and career fairs, nonprofit CodePath seeks to eliminate educational inequity in technical careers. Our Alteryx BIPOC employee resource group sat down with CodePath CEO Michael Ellison, and CodePath graduate Omar Valenzuela to hear how CodePath resources can serve as a catalyst for landing a career in tech.








Michael and Omar title card.png




Episode Transcription

MADDIE: 00:00

Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. I'm Maddie Johansen, and today we're going to give you a peek at a recent fireside chat we had for Alteryx Associates with the nonprofit, CodePath, hosted by our BIPAC employee resource group. This fireside chat with CodePath dives into the power of diversity and technology.

RAZZIA: 00:21

So CodePath has already been making giant strides in improving racial representation in tech with renewed investments from Cognizant U.S. Foundation and also that pre-internship program with Workday to help college students prepare for their tech careers.

MADDIE: 00:37

That's Razzia Gafur. She's an Alteryx sales engineer based in the UK and member of our BIPAC ERG. She was the host for this conversation.

RAZZIA: 00:46

We actually ran a conference at the start of March for a British Science Week to get underrepresented minority groups' interest in STEM careers and STEM education to kind of put on similar sessions to what you've mentioned as in your curriculum to help get them ready for that STEM world.

MADDIE: 01:01

This fireside chat was really powerful. First, you'll hear a story from CodePath graduate Omar Valenzuela followed by a conversation with co-founder and CEO of CodePath, Michael Ellison. Omar and Michael's stories not only remind us of the importance of diversity in tech, but they also spotlight how there's often a lack of opportunity and resources available to underrepresented groups. Here's Razzia to kick us off.

RAZZIA: 01:30

So first up today, we're going to be hearing from Omar who recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine where he led a CodePath iOS [schools?], and today, he is currently working as a software engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Following on from Omar's powerful story, we're then going to have our second speaker, Michael Ellison, who has led the way at transforming computer science education for women and for underrepresented minorities at over 150 colleges and universities. He's a CEO and the founder of So it's a pleasure and honor to welcome both Omar and Michael to our chat. So welcome, both of you. Omar, you first, we're very excited to have you here today and hear about your story. How are you doing today?

OMAR: 02:15

Thank you for having me. I'm doing great.

RAZZIA: 02:17

So if you could start your story for us at the very beginning, so tell us a bit about your background, your experiences in high school, and in middle school?

OMAR: 02:26

Yeah, I think going back a little bit further than that would help just to paint a better picture. So some background is my parents came from Mexico at a very young age, around 21, to the United States, and my dad dropped out of college because he had to provide for his seven other brothers and sisters, and my mom only attended middle school and never went to high school, and they came to the US to seek a better future for themselves but also for their children, for my brother and I. And what we always grew up in mind with was that education was the pathway to a better future, not only for myself and for my brother but for generations to come for our family, and that was a really important piece. And everything that we did growing up from a young age revolved around education. It was somehow kind of forced on us because they know what just hard work does, and it's not fun. Dad worked as a janitor, he worked in construction, he worked as a handyman. My mom worked in the [fields for?] 17 years, even when I was in the room with her, so it's kind of the way out. So that's kind of a painted picture of how our family kind of grew up, and our education was supposed to be the way out. And growing up, I loved playing sports. I played almost every single sport that I could get into. And it continued from when I could start playing the sport to high school and [then in?] university. Obviously, I'll get on to that later on. And in relation to tech, there is not one moment that tech was ever introduced as a formal topic. I worked for my dad at a job at a school district as a maintenance worker, and part of this job was to clean out this brick shed that housed electronics, old laptops that, over years, school districts would dump out and they would just leave them outside to rot, and they'd get new ones in just to replace the [inaudible], right.

OMAR: 04:19

So my dad would bring some of the old ones that would just sit out in the dust and rain, he'd bring them home, and let me play with them. And so that was very interesting because these new modern pieces of technology that I'm opening up and seeing all these green chips inside, having no idea what they do, it just kind of looks like alien technology when you're a little kid, just see these things that-- it's just so weird. And I'm asking my dad like, "What does this do? What does this do? What does this connection do? This green thing, right, how does this work?" and [inaudible] my natural curiosity of these things. And he wasn't able to answer any of these questions for me, of course, not having any formal education or understanding of how these things work. And he told me, "You're going to have to go to college to find these things out for yourself, and I'm going to support you in every way possible." It didn't take a lot of work from that point forward. I always just had that natural curiosity of how those things work. And it kind of goes in tandem with what he said about [inaudible] a lot of hard work. So growing up in high school, I played football, [I knew?] track and field, and I really excelled in track and field. I was ranked 25th nationally in the United States for throwing discus in high school, and I was able to be recruited and offered a scholarship for the University of California, Irvine, and that was my way into college. And there was no single point where I had planned [inaudible] go to college. My parents didn't know how to get me to go to college, didn't really know about SAT, ACT, all these formalized standardized testing, and also how to exceed in school. Because for some people, they might not know the education system in Mexico is completely different than it is in the United States, we really had no idea, and then learning English, so it makes it even harder. So getting a scholarship is really my way out.

OMAR: 05:55

And kind of fast-forwarding to college, now I'm in college, how do I get through college, right? I can't go to my parents for help, I don't know anyone in this new area, I don't have my uncle in the United States, so there's no family that I can rely on, right? My friends are back home, kind of grew up in this little community area, and I struggle. I really struggled, almost dropped out, [my winter quartered on?] academic probation. [And if I get my grades up?], I get my scholarship cut, [and I already kicked off at the?] university. But it was at that point that I hunkered down and really, really dug deep into academics and making sure that, first and foremost, I keep my scholarship that's keeping me at the attendance of the school but also having to satisfy the eligibility requirements of staying at UCI. And it wasn't until I think my sophomore year that I discovered CodePath, was able to learn iOS development, and also take part in the advanced software engineering technical interview prep course, which is fantastic, that I found out about from my friend, and it was literally career-changing. I had no idea what it takes to get a job as a software engineer, and this course kind of showed me the whole road map on what it takes to become a software engineer, like the different-- a [road map sort of of?] software engineer, how to build your resume in networking, and it was such an incredible experience because there's things you don't even know about. As a student, it's like you don't know what you don't know, right, and as a student, there's a lot of things that you don't know.

OMAR: 07:25

Sometimes when you do know what you're not aware of, you don't have the access to the resources too, and CodePath fit right into that intersection and helped really just launch my career trajectory. Yeah, it's really helped me a lot. I was able to get an internship with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the nonprofit founded by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, working as a software engineer, and I'm thankful to Michael and CodePath for really preparing me and giving me the skills necessary to excel in my job. Now, I'm here, I think, about 11 months and almost a year in, it's super exciting, it's been life-changing, not for myself but for my family. They're so proud, coming from a long, rough street, yeah.

RAZZIA: 08:09

Omar, that's really inspiring. And I'm pretty sure that-- you've already told me about your parents' work ethic, but we can see that you've got the exact same, so very happy to hear about that. You've already kind of touched upon it and some of the things that made it a bit more difficult for you in terms of just not knowing about how you got that information from, what barriers do you feel younger students face when it comes to getting involved in data science and analytics?

OMAR: 08:34

Yeah, this is such an important question. Nowadays, being around at home and still having a lot of family members that didn't quite get good education or formal education and learned more about these different industries, they'll ask me, what is a software engineer, and what does that do? And I get that question all the time. And I'm sure many engineers, we get that question all the time let alone being a data scientist or a data analyst, "What do they do?" So it starts off with knowing what these roles do and how impactful they are in society and how important it is to have this role, an equitable role that everyone can have access to, right, and not just having more educational folks know more about this and how to get the resources too and how to get opportunities too, so it starts with that, knowing what they are first, what [is a?] software engineer first, and then I think it's actually educating them and having courses available. Middle school, elementary school, and high school, there is not a single course about technology. It's devastating. I didn't take my first coding course until, I think, my first year in college, and I was already way behind, people are already coming in as technically a second year in college with all these AP units, it's incredible, blew my mind, and I'm already starting behind just because in some areas, low-community areas, you don't have access to those materials, so CodePath really fits that gap.

RAZZIA: 09:54

Given your experiences in not having those courses available to you earlier on in life, how early do you think we should start talking to kids about tech?

OMAR: 10:04

I believe as early as they're in elementary school. I mean, if you look around, there are some programs that show them the rudimentary thinking of programming and problem solving that allows them to get the creative skills, the problem-solving skills, and the confidence at a very young age, and it's super important in this digital age where we are in and moving even further into. So as early as they can. And it's super important, especially now more than ever as you want to strive towards a more diverse and equitable future in technology.

RAZZIA: 10:39

During your period as you've been going throughout, you've faced quite a few setbacks, so maybe you've not been given the equal opportunity somebody else might have done, what's been your motivation during this period? And also, what advice would you give to somebody who might be in a similar position to you, where they might want to enter the world of tech but they just don't know how to or they feel like someone like them might not belong there because they don't see as much representation of people who look like them or come from backgrounds that they do?

OMAR: 11:07

Yeah, now this is so important. Thank you for asking this. And this, I think, is in tandem with the pipeline of kind of underrepresented minorities in tech, but not just in tech but also in education, how it starts out with everyone starting at the same place and over time, the leaky pipeline drops them out. And I think a way to prevent that is building the communities like CodePath is building, there's a lot of friends that I know that are still in CodePath and we stay in touch, and we all kind of push each other like in technical interviews and stuff like that, but my motivation that's been keeping me in this is trying to be a role model and helping inspiring others in the same shoes as I am and helping them with resumes, cover letters, tech interviews, how to do side projects, and stuff like that, and mentoring people on the side and trying to really push them forward and launch them into their careers like I was able to get with Michael and CodePath.

RAZZIA: 12:01

That's amazing. Thank you for that, Omar. Unfortunately, Omar will have to drop off with us soon, but if anybody does still have any questions for him, please, do it in the chat window. We will follow up with an email after the session as well with all the answers, so please, feel free to do that and also feel free to reach out to both Omar and Michael on LinkedIn after the session so you can stay connected. But next up, we now have Michael who is the CEO and founder of Thanks for being here, Michael, we really appreciate your time.

MICHAEL: 12:29

I'm happy to be here.

RAZZIA: 12:30

So could you start by telling us a little bit about your background, both personally and professionally?

MICHAEL: 12:36

Yeah, Omar and I, we have a lot in common. And we definitely had a connection even from the first time we met. Similar to Omar. I grew up [inaudible], single mother household, and at points of time, we were actually homeless growing up. So I actually didn't know how you get to college, but I was fortunate that there's things called scholarships that actually help you to pay for college. And once I got in, I was really interested in computer science, wanted to head into tech, you had all these tech companies that were going from nothing to gigantic overnight, but unlike Omar, and this is where he definitely beats me, I ended up dropping out of CS my freshman year. So it was pretty heartbreaking when that happened because I was put on academic probation. I wasn't doing very well, then I ended up finding entrepreneurship, initially just helping other students from similar backgrounds. So I founded my first nonprofit when I was 19 years old. That put me on a path to found two additional nonprofits, including Women Who Code as well as I also founded three different tech companies and was one of the earlier African-American founders in this accelerator in Silicon Valley called Y Combinator. And the company I had founded back then was recently acquired by Twilio for over $3 billion, so I definitely had potential. But like a lot of students that are coming from low-income under-represent backgrounds, I didn't feel like I belonged in tech.

MICHAEL: 14:10

And that is why CodePath exists. We believe that pathways to success should not depend on luck, and that's why we're so rooted in not just under-represent minorities and supporting them to get into tech but also making sure that we're focused on students like myself and Omar who came from low-income backgrounds, first-generation college students, and then also trying to make sure that it's not just a foot in the door but it's how can you rise to the level of being an exceptional software engineer.

RAZZIA: 14:40

And can you share a bit more about your journey as a black founder and how that might have impacted the mission or the vision behind

MICHAEL: 14:49

It was very, very hard. You get lucky, so at one point we ended up getting lucky, invited to this conference by accident, then as we were pitching people, then it was very clear that they didn't support us, and sometimes people would say things that were flat-out racist, and you'd have to deal with that because you were trying so hard to just get in the room. But once you're in the room, you realize that a lot of people don't look like you, they don't come from similar backgrounds. So there were years and years of just trying to figure out how I could have some way to stand out, to differentiate myself, and then eventually, I think, if you persist and if you work hard - working hard kind of cures all things, persistence and working hard - then you end up increasing your chances for luck. And I started just to be able to surround myself with more and more people that would take more chances and they believed in me to now the point where I feel pretty comfortable in most rooms, I'd say.

RAZZIA: 15:50

So when it comes to that side of involvement from other companies, whether it's on the sponsorship level or a partnership level, what's your opinion on the appetite of tech companies to work with organizations like CodePath, do you find that you get immediate traction, and if not, what's the barrier?

MICHAEL: 16:06

So no, there's a lot of noise in this space because-- so we're spending multiple years to help to prepare students, we're inside of their college and university programs, and then at the end of all that, multiple years of working with them, then we are trying to get them connected to different tech companies. But there's a lot of noise in the space. And if you're thinking about talent, there's really kind of two paths, from a company standpoint, you're either working with organizations that are helping to create talent, organizations like CodePath, or you're working with organizations that are just finding talent. So we see a lot of different for-profit and nonprofits that they're working with our population or similar population for maybe a couple of weeks or maybe not even at all, maybe they're just a platform, and they're just trying to find people who are already prepared versus we're trying to take people who are very far away, and they have multi-year gaps in the build to help to then connect them with companies.

MICHAEL: 17:05

So I'll give you an example of the last challenge [inaudible] where two school, San Jose State University, Purdue University, same courses. The students we teach over at San Jose State will apply to 800 companies, and they don't hear back from anyone. The students that we're teaching over at Purdue University apply for, say, 12 companies and they hear back from all of them. A lot of companies hired primarily, or filter, I would say, primarily based on the pedigree or the previous experience. But what if you go to a school where you don't get internships? And what if you go to a school where recruiters don't visit your school? What if you go to a school where your professors can't pass technical interviews that you'd need to apply for? So there's a lot of these compounding issues. But I would say, kind of going back to your question, there's organizations that are creating talent, there's organizations that are just finding talent. It's a challenge for CodePath to break through the noise. Even though we have incredible outcomes, we still do need partners that are willing to take a look and willing to be open to doing things a little bit differently.

RAZZIA: 18:10

In terms of the education side and that curriculum that you guys put together for CodePath, what is cutting edge in education right now, and how do you think your approach is different from the standard approach on higher education?

MICHAEL: 18:22

So the standard approach in higher education in virtually every training program is a one-size-fits-all. So regardless of what I know versus what I don't know, here's the path. CodePath, you actually take an assessment before any CodePath course, and that assessment tells us what course to route you to or what series of courses to route you to, where there's a more personalized experience. If you don't complete a course, if you don't have an increase in confidence, if you don't reach your technical potential, then we consider that our fault, and most organizations, they actually don't do it that way. So it goes as specific as we've correlated that the right level of rigor of a course is taking between 8 to 12 hours for each of the CodePath projects over the course of a semester. And if it takes too long, it's too challenging. If it doesn't take long enough, it's too easy. So there's a sweet spot where a student is going to get addicted to the learning process. They're going to feel like it's hard, but it increases their confidence because they can do it. And that's an example of personalizing education but we do that at scale and it allows us to deliver a very high-quality student experience that then just gets them over humps that they wouldn't normally get in. And this also relates back to-- we have to prevent students from dropping out of computer science programs. Confidence is critical. The right pacing for the right audience is very, very important. We have some other innovations that are, I think, really special and unique. So for example, the CodePath is one of the first organizations, probably the first organization to centralize classroom operations across dozens of colleges and universities.

MICHAEL: 20:05

If you're a company and you want to change CS curriculum at scale, you're probably not going to be able to do it because Google and Microsoft and these companies spending millions of dollars each year, they haven't been able to do it successfully. The barrier is that professors have a lot of control over their classrooms. You could go through a university president, you could go top-down, and then the president is like, "Hey, do this, professors," they're like, "I don't really want to do this. So whatever, I'm going to do what I want," or say your approach is going directly to faculty and say, "Here's my playbook. Can you teach these courses? Can you deliver them?" and the professor looks at the playbook, realizes they don't have time to read the materials, and then sets it aside, says they're doing something kind of like what you want but they actually don't do anything related to what you want them to teach. CodePath figured out that if we were to save professors' time, we would align incentives for them so that we become too-good-to-be-true solution. If a school and a professor uses CodePath, we're saving them 60 hours per semester. We're doing grading, we're building curriculum for them, we have this flipped classroom with a technology platform that we created that makes it so that it's the most efficient turnkey solution that schools have seen to be able to run their courses, and then there is this incredible amount of personalization on the student level and centralized classroom operations across all these different schools, you have really cool things like students from one school helping students from across other schools, national tiers of leadership across all these different campuses where students are helping other students, we're providing these resources to professors, and it just becomes a very efficient system where we're able to, six months notice, put whatever type of curriculum that we want to put on X number of campuses but the campuses are embracing us with open arms. So that's a snapshot. But there's more cool stuff too.

RAZZIA: 21:50

I love that we can hear the passion come through as you explained that to us, and I think now is probably a good time to ask this. So we've heard Omar's story, can you give us an example of another student success story that's very close to your heart from CodePath?

MICHAEL: 22:04

Yep. So there's a student I caught up with recently, his name is Peter Akala, and he grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. For those that don't know, 60% black population, more than a quarter are below the poverty line. And Peter, he did okay in school, ended up getting into College of Southern Nevada, which is a community college in Nevada, and not a great academic reputation, but he was happy to be someplace because all our students from similar backgrounds, they don't get there. Peter was pretty exceptional. He fell in love with programming early on, and he was so advanced early in this program that the faculty actually started to pay him to help to co-teach courses. So they didn't have a lot of CS courses, but he just fell in love with that. There's a problem. When you go to a school like College of Southern Nevada, you're invisible to companies. So even though he was so advanced and talented, nobody would talk to him. He told me that he applied to hundreds of companies. He applied to all the name brands, whatever, he just never heard back. Peter actually told me that black people don't get internships. He said that to me, he told me black people don't get internships. And so that's where Peter actually found CodePath. The program that Omar mentioned, our summer technical interview prep series of courses, we created that specifically to bridge the gaps between exceeding in very challenging technical interviews but then also filling in computer science fundamentals that are very important for your agility as a software engineer. Peter ended up taking that course with us, the course connects to a virtual career fair, and in this virtual career fair, then we do very curated matching, role-specific skill-specific matching with employers at scale, and then when you match with a student, then you talk with the student for like a 10-, 15-minute session.

MICHAEL: 23:57

Peter participating in this summer program and also to this virtual career fair, he ended up getting multiple offers, including at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. So that was last summer that he interned. He's a full-time software engineer there, he's already been promoted since he joined as a full-time software engineer there, and that's the first time they've ever hired outside of their core recruiting schools like their top 20 recruiting schools. So lots of stories like that. But it's fun. It gives me energy.

RAZZIA: 24:28

That's incredible. That's really incredible. Yeah. Actually, the reason why I have you to jump on and host this session is because it's something that's close to my heart as well. I actually ran a conference at the start of March for British Science Week to get underrepresented minority groups interested in STEM careers and STEM education to kind of put on similar sessions to what you've mentioned as in your curriculum to help get them ready for that STEM world, and one of the things that we looked at was CVs and job applications and interviewing. And it was actually found that if a woman was going to apply to a STEM role, she would only apply if she thought that she fit 90% or more of a job description, whereas, men are more likely to apply if they fit at least 60% only. What is your opinion on that, and what advice would you give to somebody who wants to step in a role but they might not necessarily tick every single box on that job description?

MICHAEL: 25:20

Yeah, a very good question. That lack of confidence, that impostor syndrome is just very, very common, and I would say it's a hard thing to do but you always have to try to punch above your weight class, put yourself in positions that you're not going to be comfortable, you're going to feel like you're under-qualified, but that's good, that means you're growing. And I think that's what I did early on. My mother had so much anxiety that she would-- stress out if we're going through like a McDonald's drive-through, she wouldn't know what to do and she'd be like, "Oh, my gosh, we have to order," and I'm like, "No, it's okay, mom, just relax." I inherited some of that anxiety, and I tried to address it by just trying to work with people who would make me feel inadequate, like I wasn't talented enough if I could learn from them, like I feel like they're so smart, how could I ever rise to their level? But then when I kept doing that over and over, I started to have a habit where I'd be like, "Well, this is the most intimidating person I can think of, and this person is crazy smart, I'm just going to try to work with them." I mean, so going back, I think that it takes time, and it is about your mental health, it's managing your own psychology, but you can do baby steps and then you can do larger steps that will help to get you there. And I will say that we used to run a lot of training programs outside of major tech companies, like Intuit hires us to create a training program that will identify engineers for leadership positions. In this example, of Intuit, they wanted to have a manager-based selection and we're like, "Well, that sounds good, but can we do our own selection process which is different?" they were like, "Fine, we'll just compare the two." The manager-based selection process is like 80, 90 percent men, that were selected, our more merit-based blind selection process was 60% female ended up making it into the program.

MICHAEL: 27:11

And then the top performers are overwhelmingly female. But they would not have stepped up on their own if we had not given them this opportunity to prove themselves. That was also [through it's?] support and mentorship. So maybe also a teaser, there's lots of opportunities for companies to unlock hidden potential.

RAZZIA: 27:28

From one side, we have the applicants who kind of need to overcome those confidence barriers and kind of take that risk to go ahead and apply for things like this, then on the flip side from the employer side, you mentioned earlier that employers need to be willing to look at talent differently and also take a different approach to evaluating that talent as well, do you have any examples of where corporate partners may have done this successfully?

MICHAEL: 27:50

Yes, so I'll just [preface?] that. CodePath, we try to make it so that employers don't actually have to look at talent differently, we view ourselves as almost tricking employers into hiring diverse people from different backgrounds because they'll just be like, "Oh, I'm just trying to hire great people." "Great. We'll send you some great people. What are you looking for? You need blockchain, you're looking for a data science, they need C++, what do you need?" and then we send them people, and then they happen to be people who are from backgrounds they don't normally hire. So one thing is, CodePath, it's excellence that we're focused on. Now, some examples of really, really cool partnerships. So Facebook, we run this internship program for Facebook, this diversity internship program that occurs sophomore year. And this is by far-- of all the experiments that Facebook has done over the past six years, investing millions in diversity and so forth, this is their highest ROI. We were invited to redesign that program and run it all the way back in 2015 and have been running it ever since. But now, with the expansion of our university programs, we also heavily influence the selection. When we first started running this program, there's a lot of millionaires in the classroom because even if it says diversity, it might not be equitable, it might not mean people from disadvantaged backgrounds are being served, but that's really core to what we want to do. And so Facebook, we've been able to have this really fantastic sophomore-level work experience, mentoring opportunity, it's often the first internship, the first work experience for a lot of students that we're working with, but it also is significantly impactful for our ROI. They can track the hires into the diversity in their internship program, they can also track the diversity into the entry-level hiring funnel where, for a company like Facebook, 70, 80 percent of their new entry-level roles are being filled by their internship program. So that's an example of one.

MICHAEL: 29:44

We were running this sophomore-level internship program for Workday this summer, which is a similar idea but it's meant to be even more turnkey. It's delivered virtually, we're leveraging thousands of students across different schools to be able to select the right skills and competencies that they need, but also leveraging the summer program to-- even more personalized and fill the gaps that would be even more impactful. So one, it gets time for their junior-year very intensive internship program, then they're going to outperform. So those types of partnerships have been very exciting for us, the work and the training, but we also-- we run 40-plus events a year across college campuses, volunteering is a huge part of what we do, we're trying to recruit over 400 engineers for the summer program right now, panels and volunteering, recruiting, of course, companies participating in just recruiting with us, so lots of different ways that companies can plug in in a byte size or a large way all the way up to, "Hey, we want to change curriculum over multiple years across X number of schools."

RAZZIA: 30:48

Speaking of being big on volunteering, how could, one, organizations like ours get involved and what types of things can we do to partner with you? And then two, how can we as individuals in the tech space also volunteer and give back for causes like this?

MICHAEL: 31:04

We have a lot of different types of volunteer opportunities because volunteering is integrated into the classes that we run for our students. So what I just shared were some links for being a mentor over the course of the summer. We have this 12-week summer program that Omar was so excited about, so you'd be able to connect with students like Omar. We like to break students into pods. So how do you run a really effective online course? Well, you make it feel like a small learning environment. And the way we do that is through mentors from companies like yours, and so that volunteering is one example. But we have different flavors, different levels that could be, "Well, I have I have an hour, two hours, you want to participate in one of our panels?" and we're doing panels like just that every single week, and we love to invite a whole variety of different types of experts, technical and non-technical, to give an idea of like, "What's it actually like to be inside this tech company, or how do I break in?" Other ways for getting involved, so volunteering is one, hiring the students is the second piece. We actually have been growing so fast from the number of students we teach and enroll every year that we're constantly struggling to get more employer partners. We just-- [inaudible], we teach all the way up to PhD students.

MICHAEL: 32:16

And a third category of working with companies is helping us serve more students. And we want to build a lot more curriculum. We have a couple of courses that are really core, but there's a lot more of a gap that students have, lots of different technologies, so some companies will work with us to actually help us determine spreading curriculum like we partnered with Facebook's former chief security officer to build a cybersecurity course and they had to distribute that across tons and tons of schools. So those three different areas - volunteering, hiring our students, and then helping us to serve more students - those are the ways we like to engage with companies.

RAZZIA: 32:53

I think if we all work together, we can probably reach that bigger picture a lot quicker. So let's keep this conversation going and let's take everything that we've learned from Michael today to, as a company, be able to help others who are in a similar position. Because the truth is, as tech is evolving, we need more people from different backgrounds to join us, and that's how we can evolve as an organization and also as individuals too.

MADDIE: 33:20

Thanks for listening. To learn more about CodePath and to find additional resources, visit or We will have links in our show notes. You can also comment directly on our show notes page to share any resources you found helpful in your journey that could be beneficial for the community. Catch you next time.


This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).
Special thanks to @jesperwinkelhorst for the theme music track, and @TaraM for our album artwork.