As the leading digital consultancy with more than 5,000 global colleagues, Perficient is committed to driving STEM education and career growth opportunities, and enhancing the communities in which we live and work.
The Perficient Bright Paths Program, specifically, is an initiative designed to serve those who may not have access or opportunity to pursue their technology careers. We recently concluded our inaugural Bright Paths Program in Detroit, Michigan, where 22 women graduated, the majority of whom accepted job offers from Perficient. With the success of our first Bright Paths program, we’re excited to announce the launch of two new programs in Detroit and Lafayette, Louisiana, focused on advancing diversity in technology.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Joel Stanesa, general manager of Detroit operations, and Mary-Beth Ostasz, area vice president of U.S. and China global delivery and management consulting, to discuss the future of the Bright Paths Program.
Joel and Mary-Beth, thank you for taking the opportunity to discuss our Bright Paths Program. What would you say is the overall mission of Bright Paths?
Joel: Thank you for having us, Hannah! I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with our first Bright Paths Program cohort. It was great to work with those ambitious students and see the impact the program can have in our community, so I’m really looking forward to continuing Bright Paths in Detroit as well as expanding into Lafayette.
At Perficient, we believe innovation is best achieved when all perspectives are considered – which is a huge reason Bright Paths is so important to us. We need to continually bring more diverse insights, backgrounds, and skillsets into the conversation in order to drive innovation forward, and we want our efforts to benefit our communities at the same time. In the tech industry specifically, I believe that underrepresented populations have been overlooked as tremendous sources of insight, ideas, talent, and innovation. Bright Paths is helping minimize the employment and education gap by expanding opportunities in the industry, which is struggling to find skilled talent to fuel rapid growth. We’re incredibly proud of its success.
Mary-Beth: You make some great points, Joel. It’s been such a joy watching the success of the first program unfold, and I’m so excited to see the program expand to Lafayette.
We created Bright Paths because we know there’s so much untapped talent in our communities. This program will help participants take a step forward in pursuing their education and careers in technology. Our mission with Bright Paths is to create relevant learning experiences that prepare students for a career in tech. In addition to partnering with Strayer University, many of our Perficient colleagues will have the opportunity to act as mentors to the students throughout the program. Not only will they be imparting their wisdom and experience working in tech, but also sharing their passion for the industry which is just contagious.
We’re really striving to make an impact in our communities throughout the world. We’ve already done that and will continue to do so in Detroit, and I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish with the Bright Paths Program in Lafayette.
What should a student who goes through the Bright Paths Program expect?
Joel: Both of our training programs will be a partnership between Perficient and Strayer Univeristy’s Hackbright Academy, a coding and software engineering program designed for women, and Devmountain, a design and coding bootcamp designed to equip students with the skills to start their journey toward a career in tech. We’ve had such a great experience with Hackbright Academy, and we can’t wait to expand the program through our partnership with Devmountain.
Each program will have 25 diverse students, 50 total, who will attend the fully-paid, customized bootcamps. By the end of the program, our goal is to extend qualified graduates a job offer at Perficient where they will use their newly-developed skills and expertise to innovate with some of the world’s largest enterprises and biggest brands.
Mary-Beth: Our partnership with Strayer University’s Hackbright Academy and Devmountain presents a unique opportunity for participants to learn the foundational coding software skills needed to jumpstart their careers. Students can expect to attend the full-time bootcamp where curriculum will focus on the skills needed to become entry-level software engineers, quality assurance testers, and other tech positions. In addition to expanding their technical knowledge, we bring in mentorship and education to provide a more holistic view of consulting and how our work impacts our clients. On the backend of the program, students will have the opportunity to take the skills they’ve learned to engineer their own innovative applications. I’m very excited to see the creativity that comes from that exercise.
The demand for digital experiences continues to grow, placing a high priority on technical skillsets to build and run these innovative solutions. We’re confident that Perficient Bright Paths students will receive in-depth training that will advance their coding and development skills and help them launch a long-term career. We welcome anyone interested in pursuing a career in technology to consider applying.
Given the success of the first program, what are you excited to see with the expansion?
Joel: We had fantastic success with our first round of this program, so I’m really excited to just continue that track record. In total, 22 women graduated from the custom coding bootcamp. The majority of those graduates accepted job offers with Perficient in software development and engineering. This is a really talented group of people who have already made an excellent addition and notable impact to our growing team here in Michigan.
Seeing their interest develop into a passion was really inspiring for me and our whole Detroit team. Watching that passion ignite in these two new cohorts is something I’m really looking forward to experiencing again. More than anything, we want to make sure students are comfortable with the material and understand how to apply it when solving real problems. We set out to help students in every step of the process to ensure they understand the concepts, are confident in their work, and feel empowered to find a job that aligns with their career goals, whether that be in consulting or elsewhere.
Mary-Beth: The level of success from our inaugural program is part of the reason I’m so eager for the expansion, Joel. Although our first leg of the program was all women, these two upcoming bootcamps in both Detroit and Lafayette encourage people from all walks of life to join. We’re really focused on advancing diversity in tech, and I think seeing these opportunities come to life in the Lafayette community is something else I’m looking forward to experiencing. There’s so much potential just waiting to be realized.
I’m also really excited to expand our already talented Lafayette-based domestic delivery team, which is full of like-minded, passionate colleagues. Our location in Lafayette complements our offshore delivery centers while broadening flexibility and capacity to securely serve our U.S.-based clients. Qualified Bright Paths graduates will have incredible exposure with high-impact digital innovations and will continue to receive a wealth of knowledge long after the program ends.
Thank you again for taking the time to talk about the Bright Paths program. Do you have any final thoughts?
Joel: I’m so proud to have another Bright Paths program in Detroit, and I’m truly eager to meet our new cohorts and introduce them to a career in technology. I believe these programs not only have a direct impact to the students’ lives and their families, but they also have a cascading and multiplying effect as they inspire others to pursue opportunities in STEM. These results compound the benefits to the overall community. With the continuation of our partnership with Hackbright Academy and engaging Devmountain, I’m positive students who complete the program will be armed with the knowledge they need for a successful career in technology.
Mary-Beth: We’re thrilled to see the Bright Paths Program come to Lafayette, and I can’t wait to experience the cohort’s curiosity, innovation, passion, and professional development unfold. Again, we invite anyone interested in pursuing a career in technology to apply for our Bright Paths program, and we can’t wait to see what is accomplished.