The Paradox of Tech Talent

Last year, 86% of tech hiring managers found it challenging to find and hire technical talent (Indeed), but is there really a talent shortage or are we overlooking people right in our backyards? I think the time has come for tech companies to start looking seriously at the local talent around them and take on a responsibility to fill their candidate pipelines with a more diverse pool of applicants.

This is important to me on a personal level; I grew up in a single parent family household in one of our nation's highest crime rate neighborhoods, South Stockton. It was there that I started noticing an opportunity divide that kept young people from rising above. The Bay Area has thousands of young adults who are bright and motivated but are disconnected from pathways to higher education and living wage careers.

Despite my poor early education, I worked hard and got accepted to many University of California schools and private institutions. Concerned about being a financial burden to my family, I made the decision to go to DeVry Technical Institute in Fremont because it afforded me the flexibility to find work while attending school. While at DeVry, I crossed paths with a woman named Donna Bunyard who was in charge of a new diversity initiative to pursue talent beyond the standard “top 20 schools.” It is because of this program that I got an incredible chance to change the course of my career by launching it at Toyota.

Launching a Career at 18 Years Old -me with the Chairman of Toyota Motor Company, Takeshi Uchiyamada

Now as an IT Director at Box, I have been able to not only embrace my own untraditional pathway to a career in tech but also empower others who come from similar backgrounds.

Box doing its part
When I first came to Box, I saw diversity efforts moving to the forefront of the organization and it motivated me to be a part of the work of building out stronger and more inclusive teams. One way Box supports this is by sourcing talent from organizations like Year Up, Genesys Works, and The Stride Center. During the past couple of years, I have had the privilege to bring on a handful of interns from Year Up, which in turn, has led our team to make a big shift in our hiring strategy.

One part of this shift is how we write job descriptions. We want to cast the widest net possible and only include qualifications that are "must-haves". For example, we've removed "4-year degree preferred" to include those who may have the skills but lack the degree. One of the reasons that we were able to make this change is because of team members like Rolando Argueta. He joined us as a Year Up intern and his reputation quickly preceded him. With a strong commitment to his work, his contagious positive attitude spread to the rest of the team. While Rolando might have been overlooked because of his particular educational background and varied work experience, he embodies all the best qualities tech needs to succeed.

Bridging the Opportunity Divide - Jason with interns from Year Up, Genesys Works, and The Stride Center. Photo Credit: Hanisha Hirani

Reflection and Looking Forward
I am thankful to have team members from an array of backgrounds and I think we do better work because of it. I am a better manager, better mentor, and better coach for all members on my team, supporting each to advance in their careers and do meaningful work. Whether it is an affirmation of my own journey or a dedication to a better way forward, I am excited for what the future holds for tech talent, especially here at Box.

For more information on working @ Box, check out our Careers page!