The summer of 2020 was a time of transition for many reasons– I had gone through a major career transition and was trying to find my path, a global pandemic was causing fear and economic disruptions, and in my home of Minneapolis Minnesota racial disparities were front and center after the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed. Being involved in the protests helped crystalize for me that my passion wasn’t purely in tech consulting, but in providing a larger, more community-based impact. I wanted to use my expertise to help others.
My first opportunity to expand on that desire came with being connected to the Power Platform School, an initiative started in the UK by some talented Microsoft MVPs focused on increasing diversity within the Microsoft consulting space. I was able to help run the US-based version of the program in early 2021 and saw how fulfilling it was to help people start a new career. I decided that I wanted to take my contributions to the next level and started putting together TechFluent.
TechFluent was born from two key principles: first, that the technology industry as a whole is continually hiring and in need of new talent; and second, that the same industry, and specially the Microsoft business applications segment, has high barriers of entry for minority and marginalized communities. These barriers include many employers requiring college degrees, misconceptions about the skillsets required to succeed in tech (you don’t need to write code!), and access to people already in the industry to help you figure out where to begin. Bringing these principles together, I wanted to try to help mitigate the barriers and bring trained and qualified individuals to companies desperate for talent. I also wanted to start that focus here in the US.
Our program is focused on providing training and education on the skills needed to be successful in a tech job, both from a technical perspective as well as consulting, networking, and writing skills. We’re bringing people into the industry I already know and am a part of – the Microsoft business applications community, where we can leverage no-code tools like Power Platform to create solutions for businesses without needing to write code. This is a huge growth industry that shows no signs of stopping, so it makes a great career entry point. We bring together free online resources from Microsoft with live virtual training from experts, as well as providing one-on-one mentorship with industry veterans for every participant. We’re trying to create a real community of support and a ready-made link into a network of people that have helped me in my career to help others be successful in their careers as well.
I believe the best way to truly impact someone’s life for the long term is to give them the skills they need to be successful in a lucrative career, and provide personal connections to support them along the way. Our goal is to place people in Microsoft tech jobs – we’re aiming for 100 people in three years to start.
Because TechFluent is about lasting change and meaningful impact, it is very important to me that everyone, from board members to volunteers, trainers to mentors, is involved for the right reasons. I insist that everyone illustrates our Core Values: inclusion, passion, perseverance, pay it forward, and do the right thing. If you fit these values and are interested in being involved in any way, please reach out. I’d love to have you on the team.
-Liz, Executive Director, TechFluent