CUNY Graduates With Tech Degrees Struggle to Land Tech Jobs

The technology industry has been a key growth engine for good-paying jobs in New York City over the past decade. That trend continued during the pandemic, but a new report casts doubt on the extent to which tech-fueled prosperity is being shared.

gave A new study Give details of the challenges faced by the students City University of New York faced when they try to start a career in technology. The CUNY system, with 25 colleges, is the nation’s largest urban university, and has long served as a stepping stone to the middle class for low-income New Yorkers. The majority of its students are black and Hispanic.

CUNY “has the potential to be the city’s largest and most equitable springboard,” the report says, but that potential remains largely untapped.

According to , both CUNY and tech employers must change to meet the challenge. Center for Urban Futuresthe public policy organization that conducted the research.

Due to budget constraints, CUNY has traditionally invested little in career development. The report says there is a need to rapidly expand the handful of successful but small programs offered by the system to connect students to internships, apprenticeships and job opportunities. And courses will have to be optimized to teach the skills and use of technological tools in demand in today’s digital business.

Employers should also “revisit recruiting and hiring practices that often ignore the city’s homegrown talent pool, and work closely with CUNY,” the report said. Is.

Since 2011, CUNY has more than doubled the number of students earning degrees in technology to nearly 4,000 annually. But increased supply has not been matched by comparable success in the job market.

According to the report, half of CUNY computer science graduates do not have a job in their field a year after graduation. Paid internships—an important recruiting channel in technology—are also rare: Only 10 percent of CUNY students report an internship during their college career.

“Technology is where the good jobs are growing in New York, and very few of them have gone to people of color,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future.

Amazon provided financial support for the study but had no editorial control, Mr. Bowles said.

The tech sector is not immune to the current economic slowdown, as companies hold back on hiring and cutting payrolls. Still, technology jobs are expected to be an important source of employment growth in the long run.

Since 2010, New York City’s tech sector has added 113,900 jobs, a growth rate of 142 percent, according to an analysis by the Center for Government Statistics. While most of the city’s industries have yet to return to post-pandemic levels, technology employment has grown 17.5 percent since 2019, according to the center’s research.

By the end of 2021, the city’s tech sector employed 194,000 people, according to the center’s analysis. But that number understates the overall employment of technology workers in the city because it doesn’t include software engineers, data analysts and cybersecurity experts in other industries such as finance, healthcare, media, advertising and consulting.

In New York, middle-class jobs are generally defined as those that pay $80,000 or more. The research center estimates that the median salary for workers in the city’s tech sector was more than $220,000 last year.

Making tech employment more inclusive is a nationwide goal. New York, America’s largest city and home to a diverse population, seems like a place to grow. Today, fewer than 21 percent of tech workers are black or Hispanic, even though people from those two groups represent 43 percent of the city’s workforce.

“New York is uniquely not only a leader in tech, but also a leader in technology diversity,” said Jason M. Clark, Executive Director of Tech: NYC, a not-for-profit industry group. “But we need to develop a pipeline for jobs.”

The largest potential pipeline is the CUNY system, according to a report by the Center for an Urban Future.

In interviews, CUNY students who obtained jobs in technology said they typically did so through an individual initiative, event, or program that provided them with work experience.

For Faisal Farooq, the big break came when he answered a TaskRabbit ad posted by a venture-backed startup looking for someone to do basic data analysis. An electrical engineering major at City College, Mr. Farooq didn’t need any coding skills, but he picked them up quickly.

The work environment was fast-paced and welcoming. He was earning around $4,000 a month. “And when the summer was over, no one asked me to go,” she recalled.

So he stayed. The startup later shut down, and Mr. Farooq went back to school to complete his undergraduate degree.

But he was on his way. He had work experience, and his skills with modern programming tools were growing. One job led to another job, and today Mr. Farooq, 30, is a senior solutions architect at Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing business.

“If I hadn’t had that first opportunity, I wouldn’t have known about the world of possibilities in technology,” Mr Farooq said.

Crystal Mungo decided on computer science as a college major after attending two short summer programs run by nonprofit organizations. Girls who code. And Breakthrough TechA year later.

She was 17 and had just graduated high school when she took a two-week paid course at Breakthrough Tech, which focused on training and supporting young women in communities. The instructors were inspiring, and the focus was on real-world projects rather than academic exercises. His group designed an app that featured well-lit streets to improve walking safety in Bronx neighborhoods at night.

This led to two to three weeks of paid internships at companies. A short internship, as it is called. “Spearships,” Usually during the winter break from school but often lead to full summer internships and then job offers, as they did for Ms. Mungo.

“Our students needed an opportunity to get their foot in the door and start over,” said Judith Spitz, former Verizon chief information officer and founder of Breakthrough Tech, which developed the concept of short internships.

Ms Mungo, 23, graduated from City College and is now a business technology analyst at Citigroup. He credits Breakthrough Tech with being his springboard. “All these doors opened up for me, and it was kind of a domino effect,” she said.

Plinio Ayala, chief executive of Per Scholas, a nonprofit that runs job training and workplace programs, said his organization caters to a steady stream of CUNY graduates. Participants receive tuition-free training in business-focused technology for a few months, as well as links to employment opportunities. Eighty percent have technology jobs within a year of completing the program.

“That network doesn’t exist for a lot of CUNY graduates,” Mr. Ayala said. “We are connectors and verifiers.”

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY’s chancellor, said the system must increasingly promote student-to-career connections. Since he assumed this role in 2019, Mr. Matos Rodríguez has pushed for it. Greater industrial engagement and internship opportunities for students.

Progress has been made. As part of a program that was announced last year.Bloomberg, Centerbridge and Goldman Sachs now offer CUNY students paid internships and career counseling in tech-heavy finance businesses.

Mastercard is working with LaGuardia Community College to build its cybersecurity courses and hire students for full-time jobs after completing an apprenticeship with the company.

Google has also stepped up its recruiting efforts at CUNY schools, hiring 30 graduates for full-time jobs and taking on 21 CUNY students as paid interns and apprentices in the recent academic year.

Last month, Mayor Eric Adams and Mr. Matos Rodriguez announced a $16 million public-private partnership. CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiativeto collaborate with industry and sponsor 2,000 summer internships with companies.

Mr. Matos Rodríguez said the Center for an Urban Future study points to the need for “more innovation, partnerships and opportunities for our students in technology.”

That will require more resources, CUNY leaders say, but also a different approach to career counseling and a closer relationship with business.

City College It has five full-time career advisors for its 14,000 students. Vincent Boudreau, the president, wants to expand that group to 12, but he would also like to bring industry experts, including mid-career professionals in technology, into college classrooms. The city recently announced a comprehensive economic program that will support its plans.

“We have to start building career development and pathways as part of the curriculum,” Mr. Boudreau said.

Work and learning experiences are important. CUNY students in an internship program were three times more likely to be hired for technology jobs than their peers.

Kenneth Adams, President LaGuardia Community College, said CUNY needs to convince more employers to offer internships and apprenticeships to their students. “It will take time and effort, but if we can get the connections right, we can lift people out of poverty and into great careers in technology,” he said.

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