WiTNY’s Career Preparedness Program is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: Female-identifying students at CUNY and Cornell Tech studying computer science and related majors.
Number of participants served annually: 500
Location: CUNY and Cornell Tech campuses (Cornell Tech includes The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, Tata Innovation Center, and the House at Cornell Tech.)
Eligibility Criteria: CUNY and Cornell Tech students with a demonstrated interest in computer science and in good academic standing. The Winternship and Career Readiness Programs require a demonstrated commitment to pursuing a career in technology, like a major in Computer Science.
Application process: A student application, potentially including free-response questions and a phone-screening
Curriculum: WiTNY’s “Summer Guild” program teaches introductory-level coding skills in a project-based environment with the hope of sparking incoming CUNY students’ interest in tech. The “Winternship” program is a mini, paid internship program that runs in January each year and is focused around career exploration and career readiness for first- and second-year CUNY students. Students work in groups on a technical project while gaining general workplace skills and competencies. The “Career Readiness” program takes students through the tech-hiring process. Topics include how to structure a resume for careers in technology, networking, applying for jobs online, common questions and challenges in behavioral interviews, and white board challenges in technical interviews. WiTNY also hosts a series of events and initiatives to build community among its participants and also supports the design of new introductory computer science courses at CUNY. In addition to running standalone programming that gets students job-ready and excited to pursue careers in tech, WiTNY is also working with CUNY to rethink the computer science curriculum at the different CUNY campuses. One particular focus is making intro-level computing courses accessible and available to all students at CUNY, including non-CS majors, by removing high-level math prerequisite like calculus and focusing on real-world applications.
Skill level: Intro, mid-level, advanced
Outcomes: 4,953 students have applied to participate and 1,714 students have actively participated in one or more WiTNY programs. More than 100 companies have engaged with WiTNY and CUNY students, and WiTNY has supported 14 Cornell Tech women (10 Masters students and 4 Ph.D. candidates) with a fellowship. The WiTNY Winternship program, specifically, has increased the percent of its CUNY women who successfully land a summer tech internship from under 5 percent to more than 50 percent. WiTNY Summer Guild participants who were not previously declared CS majors register for a course in computer science at twice the rate of their non-Summer Guild peers. Additionally, 45 percent more women have enrolled as CS majors (1,401 to 2,037) and 94 percent more women have graduated with a CS degree (177 to 343).
Partnerships: Cornell Tech, CUNY, Upperline Code, and about 100 employers who volunteer for programs, host Winternship students, or hire summer internship students.
Sources of funding: Corporate sponsors, including founding partners Verizon and Accenture
What makes the program stand out? WiTNY is unique in that it addresses the challenge of propelling more women into tech careers by engaging both sides of the supply chain within the New York City tech ecosystem. The approach is to activate and align both the supply side (academia) and the demand side (industry) of the ecosystem. Through alliances with both Cornell Tech and the City University of New York, WiTNY offers a suite of wrap-around programs that meet the needs of undergraduate women interested in tech throughout their college journey. By engaging with over 100 employers in New York, we work to open new doors of opportunity into tech careers when the traditional doors don’t work for these particular students.
WiTNY programming is geared at the specific challenges and obstacles that many women face when pursuing careers in the technology industry with a specific eye towards the needs of students who attend CUNY.
What do participants need to succeed? Students need to be ready to learn and able to commit the necessary time and work to whichever program they’re enrolled in.
What does the program need? Employer partners to volunteer for programs, host Winternship students, or hire summer internship students. Additional funding for WiTNY supports more students enrolling in WiTNY’s programming to keep up with student and industry demand. WiTNY is currently accepting about one third of qualified applicants into its programs.