The Access Code program aims to boost diversity in the tech industry by teaching underserved populations how to code.

C4Q, a Queens-based nonprofit which prepares underrepresented New Yorkers to work as software engineers, is currently recruiting for the fifth installment of its Access Code program.

Applicants should be prepared for an intensive, 80-hours per week, ten-month training process – but no degree or pre-existing technical skill is required. Women, underrepresented minorities, people without four-year degrees and those making less than $45,000 a year are especially encouraged to apply.

Tatiana Moronta, a recent Access Code graduate, came to the program after she finished college with a degree in criminology and fell into a job as a hospital scheduler. She found her work less than inspiring.

C4Q students presenting their products at Demo Day hosted at Venmo/Paypal. Photo courtesy of C4Q

“I just wasn’t challenged enough,” Moronta said. “I knew I could be doing more.”

Moronta decided she wanted to learn how to code and started googling boot camps. She settled on Access Code because she liked that the program was longer than the standard twelve to sixteen-week boot camp, and that it was geared toward absolute beginners.

C4Q students brainstorm during a hackathon. Photo courtesy of C4Q

After completing Access Code in the spring, Moronta started a paid internship with Meetup, where she works alongside developers on the company’s Android app. She says she loves her current gig.

“It’s so much fun. You start off with a couple lines of code, and within a couple weeks you’ve built something from the ground up that users will find useful,” Moronta said.

Her internship is ending in another week, and Moronta is hunting for jobs as an Android developer. Even now, she continues to receive support from C4Q in the form of mentorship, networking opportunities and career guidance.

The tech industry has become somewhat notorious for its struggles with recruiting and retaining women and minority workers. Jukay Hsu, a Taiwanese immigrant and former Army Officer, founded C4Q in 2011 to push back against that trend.

“Technology has created more wealth, more companies and more jobs than ever before. But I also saw that these opportunities weren’t reaching everyone,” Hsu said in a statement.

For that reason, every Access Code cohort is made up of at least 50 percent women, 50 percent immigrants, 60 percent people without four-year degrees and 50 percent underrepresented minorities. Since it began, the program has trained hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds to work as software engineers, and has garnered support from tech giants like Google, Squarespace and Kickstarter.

C4Q student Chanice works on a white board. Photo courtesy of C4Q

There are no up-front costs for the program, once enrolled. However, participants commit to paying 12 percent of their gross annual salaries for 36 months upon getting a tech job earning above $60,000.

The 5.0 Access Code cohort will begin classes in September 2018. The program offers a traditional schedule or a nights-and-weekends tract. The cohort will have 144 spots, and last year C4Q received over 1,400 applications.

To learn more about Access Code, go here.

Update: C4Q is no longer accepting applications for its upcoming Access Code program.

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Alex Williamson

Alex Williamson is a Brooklyn-based reporter whose work has appeared in Brooklyn Eagle, Queens Eagle, Gothamist and elsewhere.

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