Not long after I became a senior software engineer at HubSpot, I started running technical interviews. I was instantly floored by how much experience some of the students applying had. Academic computer science education generally stays in a theoretical world. Although the high level concepts are relevant to the problems faced in a professional setting, few classes are teaching the specific technologies that are used at tech companies. And, recruiters often notice this gap in experience when they review candidates applying to tech jobs. I had no idea when I was in school that there were students who were finding ways to gain experience in these technologies and present them to potential employers—and it was making them stand out.
After reading more resumes and talking to applicants, it quickly became clear to me that these (generally male) students had a huge leg up by the time they were ready to join the workforce. They had created communities where they were sharing ideas, helping each other, and raising the bar in a way that you wouldn’t realize if you weren’t a part of it.
To be totally honest, this made me really angry. I was angry at myself for not realizing what I could have done differently while I was in school and angry that there could be people, just like me a few years ago, who were missing out on opportunities just because they didn’t know what was valued by the industry. I felt confident that there were large groups of people who were smart, capable, ready to learn and even graduating with computer science degrees but who just didn’t have the kind of experience that tech companies were screening for.
I brought this up to the HubSpot recruiting team and together we came to the conclusion that something had to be done. The facts were right in front of us. The percentage of women in computer science has rapidly declined, and according to recent research, only 18% of computer science graduates are women. The absence of women has been linked to non-inclusive cultures and a lack of confidence.
Developing a Resume-Ready Application
So, how could we encourage more undergraduate women to pursue careers in tech, and, better yet, help to give them the skills needed to succeed in this field? What we knew for sure was that we couldn’t approach this with another predictable “class” or “seminar.” Tech is an innovative, constantly changing industry, and one of the best indicators that someone is going to succeed is their experience creating living, breathing projects, rather than their grades in the classroom. It's not always easy to get started with a project from scratch. The frustration of running into error messages alone can lead to lack of confidence and self-doubt.
What we developed was HubSpot’s Web App Workshop, aimed at toppling the initial barrier to building a resume worthy application: outside experience with tech projects. Our hope was that it would not only help women (and men) see how important outside projects are (and arm them with the tools to continue making more), but also help them land a job in the tech workforce.
The response and feedback was overwhelming. The workshop was not only providing hands-on experience to add to resumes, but also offering attendees a look into what a career in tech or computer science looks like, complete with real-life examples of women role models excelling in an oftentimes male-dominated world.
So far we’ve run this workshop and variations of it around 15 times, in Ireland and in the US at our office locations, and at about five different schools. The original GitHub project has been used by over 400 individuals wanting to learn how to build their first web app.
Introducing “Building Your First Web App”, A Free Online Course on HubSpot Academy
Because of the success of the workshop, the impact it has had, and the communities it’s helped to create, I'm excited to share that the “Building Your First Web App” workshop is now available online, for free. You can take the course on HubSpot's Academy Learning Center so that no matter where you are or what your background is, you can get a helping hand with building your first web application.
The online workshop will mirror the successful format of the in-person workshop with interactive videos, interviews with HubSpot product leaders, and tutorials. While the online workshop won’t replace our in-person events, the hope is that we can reach the masses and create a movement for the future generations of tech workers. This course was inspired and built by women at HubSpot, but it's designed for anyone, anywhere, who's passionate about coding and is ready to build something great.
If interested in taking the workshop, you can find it here.
For those looking to join us at HubSpot, either as an intern, co-op or in a full time position, we’re always hiring in product and engineering. Check out careers available here.