Techlandia Issue 5- 2021/2022 - Page 32

That matters to employers striving to meet diversity goals in their hiring and members of communities that have historically faced barriers to accessing higher-wage work.

And the COVID-19 pandemic, while difficult for workers and employers alike, has nonetheless accelerated demand for YearOne's services. Companies are casting wider nets for talent than ever, recognizing that the remote work trend will only grow more prevalent, Ajayi said

“Covid has made people think a lot harder about where they want to work and what type of environment they want to spend their time in,” he said. “So companies are looking for talent anywhere, which I think is a good thing.”

Ajayi’s longer-term vision for YearOne is to help new tech workers navigate the skill development, interview preparation, onboarding, and career development process from year one through five. That will ultimately help them advance so that more underrepresented tech workers matriculate upward to management and leadership positions.

“YearOne’s funnel continues to grow as more people come through the interview path and turn that into full-time jobs,” Ajayi said. “And then those graduates start to become a larger part of growing that community.”

Ajayi’s focus now is on scaling the business. The YearOne Elevate Mentorship Program is a big part of his plan, offering a free 12-week program that matches non-traditional software engineers across the country with four other peers in similar circumstances and an established mentor from one of YearOne’s partner companies.

“They’re connecting cross-company and are able to share and cross-pollinate ideas and issues they’re having in a safe space,” he said.

For Ajayi, who has risen in less than a decade from a jewelry sales associate to junior developer intern, vice president of sales, and now co-founder and CEO, each progression of YearOne has been about building a climate where other programmers from non-traditional backgrounds can not only break into the tech industry but build meaningful and lasting careers.

“A lot of people focus more on, ‘Let’s get people into jobs.’ The big deal for us is, how do you build an ecosystem that supports each other, supports people not just getting into tech, but over the long term where they’re becoming engineering leaders?” Ajayi said. “That’s a big deal for us, that question of, how do we support people and share best practices across the ecosystem, so people understand what they need to do to get promoted and build a long-lasting career?”

"How do you build an ecosystem that supports each other, supports people not just getting into tech, but over the long term where they’re becoming engineering leaders?"