Portland-based YearOne helps promising coders around the country access mentorship, educational content, peer and community support to help navigate their entry into the tech workforce. With a network of professionals at major firms like Google, IBM, Airbnb, and dozens of smaller companies, Ajayi is now leveraging his own experience to help aspiring computer programmers and software engineers break out of coding boot camps and into full-time jobs. He’s also emerging as a leader in efforts to bring more diversity to the Portland region’s tech landscape.
“We’re focused on providing a value for boot camp graduates, making sure they have the resources they need to navigate the job pipeline and be successful,” Ajayi said.
Tapping into a network of over 50 coding boot camps Ajayi has partnered with, YearOne supports individuals coming out of these coding schools with peer mentorship, job interview preparation, and other training skills while connecting them to early-career pipelines at technology companies.
Ajayi and his brother, YearOne Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Sam Ajayi, enrolled YearOne in the Portland Incubator Experiment and the Techstars accelerator, graduating from the program last year.
Their success since then has been remarkable. Working remotely during the pandemic, the brothers have recruited roughly 1000 graduates from coding boot camps across the country to join the YearOne community. About 200 of them, coders from Oregon and around the country, have graduated and are now employed at major companies like Google, Twitter, Etsy, Nike, and numerous startups, small and medium-sized firms.
Graduates of these code schools receive continued on-the-job support through YearOne for one year after finding jobs. And YearOne, in turn, builds on those success stories. Many of the 200 graduates now serve as mentors for the next wave of boot camp graduates, sharing personal experiences and providing tips or connections.
“Once you break into tech, what we've found is that 90 to 95 percent of the things you're going to go through as a software engineer are the same, whereas only about 5 percent are unique to the company,” Ajayi said. “So having the resources and support to connect you adds to people having better onboarding experiences.”
Employers, meanwhile, get access to a vetted pipeline of skilled and diverse talent. About 60 percent of YearOne’s members are women or people of color. Like Ajayi, many come into programming from previous careers and might otherwise fall under the recruiting radar of YearOne partner companies.
“People graduating from the non-traditional pipeline often have a lot of trepidation going through the tech recruitment process. Using YearOne, we have our own screening process we help people go through,” Ajayi said. “It also helps us identify high-potential engineers that we can place or connect to opportunities. To hiring companies, it means they’re hiring people they would have otherwise overlooked.”
"We’re focused on providing a value for boot camp graduates, making sure they have the resources they need to navigate the job pipeline and be successful."