Only 30 percent of the tech industry is made up of women, but more than 70 percent of women want to change careers—and the tech industry is often a sought-after switch. Yet the greatest uphill battle is the most obvious one: closing the technical skills gap in order to land the desired role.
Enter Intuit—the global financial platform behind products like TurboTax, Credit Karma, QuickBooks and Mailchimp—and their Career Pathways program. A continuation of the company’s extensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming, Intuit Career Pathways program is a paid seven-month software development apprenticeship designed to recruit underrepresented groups in tech. No prior technical experience is required, and upon successfully completing the program, apprentices receive an offer for a full-time role at Intuit. And while the Career Pathways program is Intuit’s exclusive apprenticeship program, for the past two years, they’ve partnered with AnitaB on their apprenticeship program, Apprenticeship Pathway Program.
We reached out to Intuit to find out more about this game-changing program from the people who understand it best—their Director of Tech Woman @ Intuit and graduates of the program’s success. Read on to learn more about the Career Pathways apprenticeship program and how it drives Intuit’s diversity goals that help employees of all backgrounds break into this male-dominated industry.
Why Career Pathways matters to Intuit and diversity in tech
"DEI is a company priority—not just what we say, but who we are and what we do," says Tracy Stone, Director of Tech Women @ Intuit. "We have formally declared company goals to increase representation of women in technical roles and underrepresented racial groups in the U.S, and it’s important for our technical workforce to mirror our diverse customers."
This new program was meant to create an alternative pathway into tech for candidates with no computer science degree or experience as a technologist, with the primary success metric being conversion to full-time roles. "We want to see each and every apprentice succeed through the learning phase to the apprenticeship phase and be offered a full-time software engineering role," says Stone. "We want this to be the starting point for a long full tech career with Intuit, so we are looking at each candidate's long-term success and for this program to really be a launching point to that long fulfilling tech career."
Stone says Intuit hopes to continue evolving the program by adding new tools and resources to ensure their teams are set up for success. "We’re always looking to iterate. We want to make the program a great experience for candidates and for all of the teams who host apprentices."
Improving the onboarding experience, offering more technical training, and incorporating mentors—both technical and career—are among their focus areas. They'd also like to connect newest apprentices to their apprentice alumni community and immerse them in their tech culture by connecting them to employee resource groups and to all the other resources they have for their technologists.
She says having employees with nontraditional backgrounds on tech teams has already made a huge difference. "To hear the life-changing impact on the candidates is inspiring, and we often hear how impactful it is to employees across Intuit—from team members, mentors, managers, and leaders—to have team members with nontraditional career paths. They are inspired by the apprentices and their individual journeys into tech."
One of our Best Companies to Work For, Intuit is rated most highly for Maternity and Adoptive Leave, Family Growth Support, and Support for Diversity, and their benefits back up their stellar reviews for those metrics. A returnship program, fertility support, and numerous employee resource groups make up some of that top-tier support. Explore more ratings and benefits, not to mention open jobs, at the link below.
Meet 2 Career Pathways graduates: Marina Harrison and Sheryl Delrosario
What led you to the Career Pathways program?
Marina Harrison, business data analyst: "When I first came to college, my dream was to work in technology. I actually specifically chose San Jose State University because of its proximity to so many companies where I dreamed to one day work. However, as soon as I came to Silicon Valley, I quickly realized there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me working in the tech industry—a woman, Latina, and the first person in my family to graduate from college. I let my imposter syndrome get the better of me and followed a different path, which led me to marketing.
I had just graduated college and was working my first full time job as a marketing manager in the food and beverage industry. My entire team and I had been furloughed due to COVID, and I saw this change as an opportunity to pursue my dream of working in tech, but had absolutely no idea where to start.I was accepted into a data analytics apprenticeship after I had lost my job, and it was my first ever exposure to programming languages. I had learned SQL and Python, and was so excited to learn more! It was no secret either, as I was telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to become a software engineer. Upon completing the apprenticeship, my manager shared with me Intuit’s Career Pathways program and encouraged me to apply. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to finally pursue my dream of becoming a software engineer. I had never heard of a program like this, had no idea if it was even real, but I applied, was accepted, and the rest is history!"
Sheryl Delrosario, software engineer: "I have a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and computer science from UCLA as well as certificates in accounting and in technical communications (also known as technical writing) from other in-person, formal educational institutions. I started my career in the financial services industry and thereby had relevant work experience in bookkeeping, auditing, and tax work. While I never officially worked in tech, I remained a hobbyist developer and frequently attended major tech conferences. My continued interest enabled me to develop apps (digital/conversational assistant apps and mobile projects) on the side. I initially learned of this specific opportunity from AnitaB.org and Intuit from one of my women in tech groups. Despite seeing the role advertised in multiple places, it wasn’t until the encouragement from a fellow woman technologist that I eventually applied. I thought that perhaps it was time to finally start my career in tech!"
Besides the promise of a full-time role after completing the apprenticeship, what about the program stood out to you throughout the process?
MH: "There were so many incredible factors about the program that really drew me in. At the time, the program was designed to create a robust pipeline of tech women from historically underrepresented backgrounds. It resonated so deeply with me, as the reason why I had given up on my dream years ago of working in tech was because I had felt no sense of belonging. To know that there was a program that not only addressed the underrepresentation of women in tech, but was actively working to systematically change the industry through community-based learning, training, and retention—it was just something that I knew I had to be a part of. I felt incredibly aligned with the mission of the program.Additionally, the opportunity to learn alongside so many brilliant women—both in my cohort and through mentorship at Intuit—was such an eye-opening experience. I remember while I was an apprentice at Intuit, it was the first time in my life I ever met fellow Latinas in technical roles and was able to work alongside them. I discovered this program was so much bigger than just teaching me to code. It gave me an opportunity to build a strong community of tech women who I would be able to lean on for the rest of my career."
SD: "At the time, it was not guaranteed that we would receive a full-time offer just by participating in the program, but it nevertheless still appealed to me because it was an opportunity to learn something I’ve never done before (front-end software development) and in a field that I had immense interest in (accounting/bookkeeping). Intuit was a natural fit as it married all my education, skills, and previous work experience."
How has graduating from the Career Pathways program set you up for success?
MH: "The Careers Pathways program taught me the importance of advocating for myself and being able to articulate the value I bring as a member of any team. Intuit has a really great culture of career development and mobility, so they worked with me to find a role that was perfect for me, and for that I am so grateful. However, it was only through all of the mentorship in the program that I was able to learn to advocate for myself and my passions. As women, especially in male-dominated spaces, we’re taught to remain in our lane and downplay our skills so as to not come off as 'arrogant' or 'braggy.' I will never forget my mentor telling me that the only perception others have of me is the one that I allow them to have, and to never think twice about vocalizing my strengths. I know this is a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my career."
SD: "I had the ability to learn various frameworks, technologies, and programming languages quickly. Due to the nature of the industry, I must continually learn new things throughout my career, so this confidence is key. For example, I’ve changed teams since my apprenticeship phase and all the work changed when I converted to full-time employment. In doing so, I had to expand my repertoire from front-end work to then include back-end work (to become what is known as a full stack developer)."
What do other people need to do to get where you are?
MH: "One of my favorite quotes is, 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' I think if there’s something I want someone reading this article to take away from my experience is that I was able to get where I am today with the help of the community. In fact, one of the core values at Intuit is 'Stronger Together,' meaning all the work we do, we do as one team, with integrity and compassion. Through the community I’ve built both inside and outside of Intuit, I was able to learn and grow as a professional woman in the field of technology and will always take the opportunity to pay that forward."
SD: "Tech is always evolving. One must be willing to continue learning new things to stay relevant. There will be many roadblocks, but I know now that I have the main abilities to succeed. Imposter syndrome hits everyone throughout their entire careers, but having the confidence or persistence to continue working and learning to ultimately persevere is what differentiates people who thrive in their careers. It also helps to have subject matter expertise (via experience) in your industry."
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