SUNY Schenectady County Community College & Albany Can Code
HISTORY In early 2016, two women – one a software company CEO born and raised in Troy, the other a veteran of start-ups in China who decided to finally settle in the 518 – had a conversation about finding talent for the growing software sector. What was the Cap Region doing right? What was it missing? Did all the open jobs for coders, developers, testers and project managers really need to be filled by Computer Science degree holders with 2-4 years of experience? Could there be an alternative to competing nationally for experienced developers, pitching them to relocate? What could be done to skill up those with talent who already live here?
Those women, Annmarie Lanesey and Janet Carmosky, came up with the name Albany Can Code, to embody a simple and unifying vision – a talent-fueled tech sector in the region, vibrant and inclusive. The vision was a beacon and a magnet for others who wanted to be part of building affordable and practical programs designed to put locals into local software jobs.
Lanesey and Carmosky found two other women ready to jump in and make something new: namely Denise Zieske, the VP of workforce development at SCCC and Sarah Wilson Sparrow, coordinator of workforce development and community education at SCCC. Both long term advocates for non-traditional talent and workforce diversity, Zieske and Wilson-Sparrow asked why the software bootcamps that had emerged nationally as a pathway to software employment had to cost $12,000-$20,000 – plus living expenses for 3-5 months in Boston, New York, or further afield. They decided that they would put their heads together and build something scaled to local demand, budgets, and lives.
Armed with the philosophy that tuition needs to be affordable Wilson-Sparrow, Zieske, Lanesey and Carmosky decided they would start the first affordable employment-oriented coding class and launched the program in Fall 2016. Since then the courses have evolved, ensuring that content is kept relevant and timely. This partnership is truly based on being responsive to employers and students while maintaining a sense of mission.
None of this would have been possible without the visionary leadership of Dan Cullen, Lois Johnson, Ed Murphy and the entire team at WDI – the Workforce Development Institute of New York State. They joined the conversation, supported the vision and funded the project.
There are many new partners to honor and thank! Stay tuned for more about the lives that have been changed; the employers, funders, and school districts across the Cap Region who have come together to support us; and the way we are changing mindset about who can work in technology.