When you’re starting out in a new career, nothing beats real experience. It builds confidence, contacts and relevant skills – and is ultimately the biggest drawcard in getting you hired. Yet so many entry level job-seekers get caught in the same conundrum: you can’t get experience because you don’t have experience. For women in tech, where the hiring process can be even more biased and restricted, this jump from education to employment can feel almost impossible. Enter the rise of experience-based learning models. A range of initiatives, such as Code Like a Girl and MYOB’s DevelopHer internships, have sprung up in the last few years in an effort to break the gender bias in tech by bridging the education to employment gap.
One such company is Harness Projects, an Australia-based tech skills educator who is pioneering a Real Project Learning model. In their 6-month courses, learners get hands-on experience with a suite of different companies – all while being mentored by heads of industry from companies such as Tesla, Atlassian and Google. This means learners come away with not only the usual technical skills, but industry contacts, a full portfolio and real experience on their resume. For so many women, where the biggest roadblock is simply getting a foot in the door and gaining experience, this is a game-changer. Unlike many internships, in this model women are not beholden to stay at their place of training. These courses are also flexible and part-time, meaning women don’t have to choose between giving up work or stepping away from family commitments in order to further their careers.
Michael O’Brien, Harness Co-Founder says “we believe that traditional education and recruitment have inherent biases that no longer meet the needs of a modern workplace or account for the true value of women. In our Real Project Learning framework we grade attitudinal (soft) skills just as highly as technical (hard) skills, as we believe that although technical skills may land you a job, attitudinal strengths are what maintain a successful and lasting career. Women are infinitely capable across all skill areas, but for far too long their attitudinal strengths have been overlooked by conventional power structures. We believe that skills in collaboration, empathy, and communication are essential to the future of work and to meaningful tech. We want to highlight these through our learning model and ensure they are recognised in the recruitment process.”
For so many people that are breaking into a new field and are stuck in the “can’t get work without experience” conundrum, experience-based models of learning might just be the key to breaking through.
Harness Projects offers courses in UX design, digital marketing and product management, all taught on live company projects with industry-leading mentors. To learn more go to www.harnessprojects.com.au