Posted On: September 30, 2020
DREAM BIG students interested in coding and web development won’t want to miss our next career exploration event with LaunchCode, taking place October 7 from 3-4:30 pm on Zoom.
Students will hear an overview of LaunchCode, a nonprofit providing free tech training and job placement opportunities to people from all educational and professional backgrounds. Former apprentices will share encouraging stories of how the training they received from LaunchCode took their careers in exciting and lucrative new directions. DREAM BIG students will also have the chance to interact with LaunchCode apprentices during a live Q & A session.
According to Lin Wang, Chief Program Officer at LaunchCode, the tech industry offers ample reason for optimism. “I definitely see opportunities for people with disabilities in technology,” she states. “As students will see, we’ll have quite a few speakers from all types of backgrounds who are now doing different types of jobs in tech.”
As many LaunchCode apprentices do, Lin also took a circuitous route to her current job. After immigrating from China, Lin earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Washington University in 2015. She managed to find work as a research analyst, but full-time employment was hard to come by. By attending a networking event, she learned of an operations analyst opening at LaunchCode and was immediately intrigued by their mission.
Lin’s research background and analytical mind made her an ideal fit for the position, and the rapidly growing organization soon hired her in the summer of 2016. Lin’s role has steadily evolved since then, as she played an integral part in helping LaunchCode expand its educational programs. This transition toward the education side rekindled an old passion of Lin’s.
“As grad students, we were required to do a certain number of hours as teaching assistants in the classroom,” Lin recalls. “Those were always some of my favorite memories from graduate school because I got to share what I had learned with students and answer all of their questions.”
Likewise, DREAM BIG students can have their tech-industry questions answered on October 7. Lin hopes they come away with a sense of optimism for what a future in tech can provide, but she also wants to emphasize the dedication and sacrifice it requires.
“We’ve seen thousands of learners finish up our class and get tech jobs, many of them never having any previous training in anything related to computers,” Lin remarks. “Some people have full-time jobs or multiple part-time jobs while they’re working with us to achieve their dreams. We’ve had people come to LaunchCode and become hugely successful, but we also want to share with students that it takes a lot of hard work.”
Understanding that a significant amount of progress must still be made to build a fully inclusive tech industry, Lin appreciates the relationship LaunchCode has forged with Starkloff and the DREAM BIG program.
“I recognize that a lot of times we don’t understand the full potential of people with disabilities,” Lin acknowledges. “But it takes organizations like Starkloff and LaunchCode to provide industry-wide outreach and help people realize that there’s huge potential within this population.”