By The Bridge Core Team
What do we gain from sharing our stories with the community? Listening to people speak candidly about wins, challenges, and surprises along the way can empower us to learn and take action. On September 7th the Bridge team partnered with DITTO to share our journey and talk about our plans for the future. Read on to hear a few of our answers from a great panel discussion with Emily Porta, Abdella Ali, and Purvi Kanal, moderated by Ella Gorevalov.
Ella Gorevalov: What do you hope to accomplish through Bridge?
Emily Porta: Our first and most pressing priority is to directly help as many women in technology as possible with our working model of Bridge. When we started the program, we had no idea if it’d work. Over the last year and a half we’ve iteratively developed a program and course content. This has not only accomplished our first goal of a program that gets women prepared for better development jobs and leadership opportunities, but we’ve discovered that we can package up and deliver this program to other companies.
Many organizations are in the same place Rangle was when we started working with them to build our initial cohort. They genuinely want to help, but to build a solution like Bridge that would have real impact, and return on the investment made is just plain difficult. Once we realized we were solving a slew of problems for Rangle, we figured we should offer those solutions to as many companies as we can. We hope to see Bridge transform the technology industry nationwide into a more inclusive and welcoming space for everyone. We do this by providing a way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, and generate, as our students say, “exactly what [they] need when [they] needed it.”
EG: What’s the difference between Bridge and one of Toronto’s code schools?
Purvi Kanal: We’re not competing with Toronto’s code schools, we’re supporting some of the same community and working together to help women in the industry. Half of our core team came from a bootcamp background, and the other half are largely self-taught, so we understand the value of a support system built around non-traditional pathways to technology careers. Plus, we’re also 100% free and always will be for students. We come in to support students who’ve already worked hard to become professional developers, but need a community and the right opportunities to get that next great job and/or challenging work.
We’re excited to work more with code schools and other community efforts in the near future to build a support network for women at all stages of their profession.
EG: Why is Bridge free for students?
Emily Porta: Bridge is free because it’s wrong to charge an already marginalized group for what non-marginalized individuals get for free every day. At Bridge we understand that companies in the tech industry are looking for a program they can contribute to that works and fits their hiring needs. It just makes sense for companies to allocate some of their budgets this way so they get the immense value that results from a single cohort of our program. It’s commonplace for organizations to spend a lot of money on third party recruiting, professional development for juniors, and sponsoring diversity-related events. For this reason we know companies that believe in being a strong force for good in our industry will readily pay the costs for such immense positive impact on these women’s lives— not to mention their own company culture!
“Bridge is free because it’s wrong to charge an already marginalized group for what non-marginalized individuals get for free every day.” — Emily Porta
EG: As a developer, how has being a part of Bridge affected you?
Purvi Kanal: My development skills grew so fast while teaching, it surprised me a little bit. Imposter syndrome is easier to manage, too. After teaching a large number of classes the doubt starts to go away and confidence builds up in its place. I know now that even if I don’t have the answer I’m confident I can figure it out. Also, I became much stronger at coaching and pair programming with other devs, and those skills transferred over to my regular job.
EG: How do you decide on the tech stack? Projects?
EG: What is the #1 reason to join Bridge?
Purvi Kanal: The community. Over the last year and a half we have built a strong and supportive community of people that are always willing to help out. This includes teachers, mentors, but also students helping each other. There is no better environment to learn in than one where you feel safe enough to ask all the questions and dare to fail.
“There is no better environment to learn in than one where you feel safe enough to ask all the questions and dare to fail.” — Purvi Kanal
EG: What’s next for Bridge?
Emily Porta: We’re growing. Having tested and refined our approach, we’re currently building on the success of Bridge by forming partnerships with Toronto-based technology companies to grow the program. Just as we’ve helped Rangle host Bridge, we’ll be helping other companies to host and run the program. We’ll be assisting these companies in leveraging their developers, our amazing network of volunteers, all our technical content, our student support program, as well as a growing community of alumni. As a result, more companies around the GTA will have a growing list of diverse developers as potential hires, and form deep relationships with our hardworking students who are destined for technical leadership.
EG: Can companies build their own Bridge? Where do they start?
Emily Porta: Absolutely. Reach out to chat with us about how we can best help your company. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing and learning from others helps us grow and go on to do bigger and better things. It was inspiring hearing other women talk about diversity, inclusion, and their journeys. Thank you for sharing, Ella Gorevalov, Yaa Otchere, Avery Francis, and the Bridge student panel of Meltem, Melanie Burger, Simone Holder, and Sarah Boo. We can’t wait to see what all these amazing ladies get up to next!
Bridge is also excited to announce we’ll soon be offering a Product Design course. There’s a 7-week beta course starting this fall where we’re taking six product designers who are women through an end-to-end project lifecycle. Stay tuned to hear more about that in the coming months.
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For more information on how your company can partner with Bridge, visit us at bridgeschool.io.