Career Karma Is On a Quest To Bring More Diversity To The Tech Industry
Photo Credit: AfroTech

Career Karma Is On a Quest To Bring More Diversity To The Tech Industry

This article was originally published on 07/18/2019

For many people interested in entering the tech industry, learning to code can be a huge barrier. Understanding how to code is a skill and the last thing you want to do is waste money on bad teachers.

Over the past few years, “coding bootcamps” have become increasingly popular, in part thanks to their flexibility. These accelerated learning programs can be done full-time, part-time, online, in-person, and are designed to help people get a job in 3-12 months.

In 2018, a report from Course Report found that there were 108 in-person and online bootcamp providers in the United States and Canada. But, picking which coding bootcamp is right for you can quickly become overwhelming.

Ruben Harris founded Career Karma alongside brothers Artur and Timur Meyster in 2018. The app serves as a marketplace that helps match people to job training programs called “coding bootcamps”.

Harris originally met Artur and Timur in Atlanta. Eventually, Harris made his way to San Francisco and broke his way into startups. You can hear a little more about that journey in the video below.

 

Before starting Career Karma, Harris and his co-founders took time to work at venture-backed companies themselves, so they’d be able to gain skills and better understand how the game worked.

“Rather than work for the same company, we decided to work for different companies (Autotrader, Funding Circle, AtlSchool, Honor, Hustle, and Blippar) so we could learn from each other and come back together to start our own company when we were ready — kind of like a backwards version of the Wu-Tang Clan,” Harris shared.

In 2016, Harris also co-founded a podcast called Breaking Into Startups. The podcast features inspiring stories of people who have broken into tech through non-traditional backgrounds. The podcast has featured big names like Young GuruGary Vaynerchuk, and Alexis Ohanian so people could hear about tech skills from those they admired.

Focusing on non-traditional tech backgrounds is definitely important because the tech industry currently has a huge diversity problem. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that about 83 percent of tech’s executives are white — and it’s not any better a non-executive level. 

For example, companies like Google and Facebook released diversity reports that showed Black representation in their workforces was only at 3.3 and 1.5 percent.

Entering tech as someone who isn’t a white man or through non-traditional paths like coding bootcamps or being self taught can often lead to people being underestimated. But, to Harris, that can also serve as a strength.

“When I left Atlanta, I always thought about being underestimated like being the black belt in the room that is comfortable and confident in their abilities without talking about it or waving their black belt around,” Harris said.

He went on to add, “When people download Career Karma, we teach them from day 1 that being underestimated gives you an advantage because you can easily exceed expectations when people notice you because you are different and they underestimate you. Often, the things we think about ourselves that are weird, are often the things that become our superpowers if we learn to love and embrace those qualities.”

After downloading Career Karma, people go through a three-week process called the #21DayCKChallenge to get them connected with peers, coaches, and mentors who will prepare them to pass the entrance exams at coding bootcamps.

Since Career Karma launched, there are now over 20,000 people using it. In addition, 100-200 people download the app every single day.

Recently, Career Karma finished a Seed Round where the company raised $1.5 million in funding. One investor was Kapor Capital, which focuses on investing in startups who have a positive social impact.

Career Karma has plans to eventually expand to other skillsets like sales, data science, and marketing. If you want to get involved now — whether you want to learn to code, are an engineer yourself, or represent a company — make sure to download the app.