Last week New Relic was proud to host 40 students from CODE2040 in our San Francisco HQ to kick off their new Tech Trek program.
CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating access, awareness, and opportunities for top Black and Latino/a engineering talent. The organization works to connect these students with companies, funders, and fellow technologists committed to diversity and inclusion.
CODE2040 launched its inaugural Tech Trek, a weeklong program for Black and Latino/a undergraduate computer science students from universities across the country, on Monday, March 21. The Tech Trek event was designed to address some of the common reasons why students of color leave computer science majors and increase academic persistence amongst those students. This program’s goal is to strengthen the students’ community, professional and technical skills, and connections to the tech industry.
A daylong visit to New Relic
During the daylong program, attendees met with members of New Relic’s engineering teams from our San Francisco and Portland offices. Sessions covered a wide variety of topics, including resume writing, crafting a personal pitch, networking, and, of course, a tour of our high-tech offices!
Mikey Butler, New Relic’s senior VP of engineering, welcomed the group and shared key moments from his 40-year career in tech. Mikey encouraged the students to stay the course and to have courage. Blown away by the energy and enthusiasm of the students, he told the group they have the potential to dramatically increase the representation of people of color in all areas of tech and especially in positions of leadership. Mikey also reflected that in his career he was often the only person of color in a particular group or role, and that takes strength. His advice: “Do not fade into the background, don’t do it, be your authentic self.”
The students also met with a group of New Relic engineers who traced their paths into engineering and the excitement of having a career in tech. Everyone involved in the day voiced their pride in supporting such a change-invoking and inspirational program. New Relic looks forward to continuing to work with CODE2040 in the future.
Welcome to the Ideathon
Another piece of the Tech Trek program was what CODE2040 called an “Ideathon.” A play on the concept of a hackathon, the Ideathon is intended to encourage exploration, teamwork, and innovation. Each student group had the opportunity to pitch their ideas and designs in front of a group of judges as well as other students, and received useful feedback on their presentation.
The Ideathon was held at Box headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. New Relic CIO Yvonne Wassenaar was one of the judges of the nine teams (each with four to five students) who were tasked with developing an app-based business to address social inequity and racism in America. The teams chose to address a wide range of problems with innovative, compelling, and well-executed ideas, including apps designed to:
- Offer support to people threatened with eviction or rent increases
- Recreate “community” to make it easier for users to volunteer and do favors for one other
- Enable users to report and obtain support concerning sexual assault incidents on college campuses
- Create instant audio recordings of treatment by police, and offer mobile access to rights information when approached by the authorities
- Offer undocumented immigrants mobile access to information on rights and resources
- Teach English as a second language and help locate mentors
- Help ethnic college students find experienced barbers and hairdressers in their new communities
- Use mobile games to teach financial literacy to kids in underprivileged neighborhoods
According to Yvonne, the event highlighted the need to support Latino/as and Black students in the pursuit of engineering careers. Many teams leveraged their own personal stories when laying out the burning need for their solutions, which helped draw in the audience and judges. Overall, the Ideathon made it clear that armed with the right skills, these students are in a unique position to address many of today’s most important social justice issues.