Education, Infrastructure Pose Challenges for Tech in the Bronx – The Fordham Ram
October 21, 2015
By Cailin McKenna
“The discussion also focused on incorporation of minority youths into the industry. “By 2020, the demand for technology resources is only going to be met by about 60 percent by people who come from universities,” said Keith Klain, co-CEO of Doran Jones, a technology consultant firm located in the South Bronx. “There is a huge opportunity to keep those jobs in New York by providing people with alternative backgrounds access to those jobs.””
“One of the findings from our sojourn earlier this month was the degree to which many businesses face bias because they are based in the Bronx. This was especially true for tech entrepreneurs. I found that to be striking. After all, the Bronx could give the tech industry some much-needed diversity. In fact, entrepreneurs make this point to investors, often to little avail. “There is a perception issue. That’s something we struggle with,” said Keith Klain, COO of Doran Jones, which bills itself as the first urban “on-shoring” tech firm in the country. “How do we break through the negative media barrier?””
If you’ve followed what I’ve been doing since leaving Barclays in 2013, you know that the Software Testing program at Per Scholas has been a passion project of mine. But in order to be successful, besides a foundation in Rapid Software Testing training, the graduates of the program need mentoring and industry support. With that in mind, I was overjoyed when my pal Rosie Sherry let me know she was offering TEN FREE PASSES to TestBash NY to graduates of the program. Now, I’ve already said my piece about TestBashand why it’s the only software testing conference I’m going to this year, but giving back to a community like the Bronx is beyond my expectations. If you have not checked out what the Ministry of Testing is doing for our industry or aren’t planning on attending TestBash NY – you’re doing it wrong! Register today!
One of the biggest challenges of working as a consultant in technology is trying to balance the (sometimes) competing objectives of your clients, the company you work for, and your own goals as a professional.
Each of these masters may have different priorities at different times: your consulting company wants to be profitable and do great work for their clients, your client wants your expertise while navigating the “cost, quality, time” gauntlet, and you want to develop skills so you can progress in your career. How do you align your work with these and other goals? Is it even possible?
Join Keith Klain, Paul Holland, Geordie Keitt, and David Greenlees as they discuss these challenges and their successes and failures at the balancing act of serving their three masters.
Most software testing conferences suck. There, I said it…
For all our talk about critical thinking, hard questions, the pursuit of scrutiny, the reality is the majority of testing conferences are echo chambers of what we already know. Vendors get keynotes and the long-standing run of uranium depleted skulls get to rehash their talking points – one tired, old, boring talking point at a time.
In my opinion, there are only a handful of software testing conferences worth going to – and TestBash is one of them. When I heard that the Ministry of Testing was coming to New York, I instantly got a hold of Rosie and asked to be a part of it. Three things make a great conference, diversity of thought, the speakers and most importantly the community that attends, and TestBash brings plenty to the table for all of them.
But don’t take my word for it, check out TestBash NY and see for yourself why its the only software testing conference I’m attending this year – you will not be disappointed.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Excellence in Testing
As many of you may know, I am working through Doran Jones with a local Bronx school to build an app with them to communicate better with their parents. We are using high school students to build and the Melrose School students for testing. Recently the Principal a the school brought their fantastic program called “Books to Grow On” to my attention and the need for funding.
The Melrose School PS/MS 29, located in the South Bronx, is looking for sponsors to help young children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade build their own home libraries. These libraries will afford students the opportunity to share the love of reading with their families and be exposed to read-alouds on a more regular basis.
Students in low-income neighborhoods often have lower academic achievement rates largely because they do not have the resources needed to succeed. With this program, students will be able to build their own library of books that interest them.
The Books To Grow On pilot program was launched in 2013 in the First Grade classrooms at PS/MS 29. It was a huge success as shown by parent surveys, and student growth. That year, first graders jumped an average of 7 reading levels, with 72% of general education students reading at least at the 2nd grade level.
After the second year of the program, 77% of general education first grade students were reading at or above grade level by June, as compared to 38% in September. The second graders who were in the second year of the program maintained 72% of students reading at or above grade level.
The money we raise will fund the rest of the classes in the school, so please join me in supporting this great initative and help inspire the next generation of technologist in the Bronx!
Innovation in tech education and job creation from the birthplace of hip hop
Exit the subway. Walk by a check cashing service and under a freeway overpass, past some guys chatting on a stoop at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday. Across the street there is a hot dog factory and downstairs a methadone clinic. The business people and civil servants in crisp suits that I have been trailing to our destination look out of place here.
I’m in the South Bronx attending the grand opening celebration of the Urban Development Center, or UDC for short, a partnership between software consulting firm Doran Jones and workforce development non-profit Per Scholas. Doran Jones provides software engineering and testing services to major financial and media companies. Per Scholas is a 24-year-old educational non-profit focused on providing tuition-free training to prepare its graduates for jobs in the tech industry. The UDC is part of a movement to “reshore” tech jobs that have been offshored to places like India back to the United States.
Building the Future of Tech in New York – Doran Jones and Per Scholas Celebrate Grand Opening of the Urban Development Center
BRONX, N.Y. – SEPT. 16, 2015 – Technology consulting firm Doran Jones and nationally-recognized IT job training nonprofit Per Scholas celebrated the grand opening of the first-of-its-kind Urban Development Center (UDC) that will bring hundreds of high-tech jobs and millions in economic development to one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx.
“A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” – President Barack Obama
When it comes to useless college degrees, according to the President, I might possibly have hit the lottery. Art. Of all the things you can study at university, art has to be the subject most often associated with useless, navel gazing, impractical pursuits of higher learning. I mean, what could you possibly do with a degree focused on creativity, communicating abstract ideas, and viewing things in their appropriate context?
The first time I spoke in public was a complete disaster.
I was working in London as a Managing Consultant running the Software QualityManagement practice for the UK and the MD of the region asked me to give an overview of the business – at the annual meeting of the entire company! Now I had spoken dozen of times in private at project and sales meetings, but this was different, as I had never gotten up on stage to present in front of hundreds of people. But being filled with my usual unwarranted self-confidence, I readily said “of course” when asked and then set about trying to figure out what I was going to do.
Come hear NYC’s leading entrepreneurs and investors discuss startup life in the Bronx and NYC. Panelists will discuss their experiences, highlighting the challenges and triumphs of startup business in the City.
Additionally, the Digital.NYC partnership will outline NYC’s best tech and startup resources, including today’s most effective ways to find a job, access startup capital, and tap into NYC’s burgeoning tech and startup scene.
Digital.NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company, startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workspace, accelerator, incubator, resource and organization in the five boroughs. It is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, IBM, Gust, and over a dozen leading NYC-based technology and media companies.
Hoping to take advantage of a growing trend to bring IT jobs back to the U.S., a technology consulting firm is setting up shop in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, hoping to create a viable business and serve a philanthropic purpose at the same time.
That neighborhood is the South Bronx of New York, where within a two-mile radius there are five large housing projects and where 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the 2010 Census. It is the poorest congressional district in America.
This is an article I wrote for the January 2015 issue of Women Testers…you can read the entire magazine here…enjoy!
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
I am a product of my environment. I have benefited from a lifelong positive model for diversity starting with my mother, to my wife, multiple bosses, friends, to my industry colleagues. Strong, intelligent men and women who inspire and challenge me, and make me think differently about who I am and how I see the world have surrounded me for as long as I can remember. I am grateful for that experience, but I realize that not everyone has had the advantages that I have enjoyed. As well, part of the social contract, as Elizabeth Warren says is to “take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” Continue reading …
Absolutely love this post by Scott Berkun that was inspired by my experience with the masters of reinvention at Per Scholas…enjoy!
Life as Reinvention – Scott Berkun
“There is a list of sayings on a whiteboard near my desk that I can’t help but notice several times a day. It contains ideas I try to remember, things I forget are true and important about the life I want to have. Near the top of the list is this one: you could be dead. It makes me laugh every time I see it, for reasons I can’t entirely explain. The part I know will make the most sense to you is how when we’ve been alive for awhile, we forget what being alive means. We slide into a paper cage of our own habits and forget that with a little effort we can slide our way into new habits too. I can stand up whenever I want. Or sit down. Or put on some music, or close my eyes and lose myself in silence. I could dance, scream, stand on my desk, or anything I choose to do. Anyone can do an infinite number of different things, small and large, in this or in any moment as long as they are still alive. But I forget. We all forget. We live many of our waking moments asleep in a dream of our own invention, a dream of boredom and regret that we don’t even enjoy. We become familiar with our favorite memories and allow ourselves to believe the feeling of familiarity is an acceptable replacement for investing in the life we have today.”
“The Urban Development Center lends this whole urban on-shoring concept some serious street cred, primarily because of a man named Keith Klain. Klain is the co-CEO of Doran Jones, and the driving force behind the center, but before that, he spent years as the head of global testing for Barclay’s Capital, traveling the world setting up and managing software testing operations in India and Kiev. For Klain, bringing these jobs back to the US is not just altruism. It’s business.”