On February 6, 2015, United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker visited The Flatiron School in New York City to learn more about the program, its students, and the companies that are leading the way in hiring skilled workers in a data-driven economy. It was such an honor to be invited to a closed door round table with Secretary Pritzker.
Despite the standard formalities, Secretary Pritzker walked around as if she were a student herself. She asked questions of the founders and spoke to students about their work. At the table sat representatives from Microsoft, The New York Times, New York Tech Meetup, Wiser, DoSomething.org, UniteUS, Alphasights, and me from RMS. Secretary Pritzker welcomed us, mentioned the traffic on the West Side Highway, and then jumped right in to asking questions. The session was being covered “on background” (meaning that we weren’t quoted) by Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Katie Couric.
The forum was casual but direct. Secretary Pritzker’s interests included understanding why companies recruit from schools like Flatiron (RMS has hired 2 students; welcome Sam Tran and Jimmy Kuruvilla) versus traditional university programs; how to get other companies to look outside of the traditional schools; how skills-driven programs are helping shrink the unemployment rate; and why an internship/apprenticeship is so valuable.
RMS forged a relationship with the Flatiron School just after they opened in 2012. Since then we have been a partner to the school and to the student population. Not only have we participated in the science fairs and as mentioned above, hired students from the program, but earlier this year we committed to being a NYC Tech Talent Pipeline Industry Partner. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is leading this initiative with the hope that the $10 million plan will support the growth of Silicon Alley (NYC high-tech industry).
The NYC Web Development Program is designed for 18-26 year olds without college degrees looking to gain skills as developers and creative technologists. The students who enter this program receive the $15,000 Flatiron School training free of charge. RMS’ commitment to this program is to hire 2 interns from the NYC Web Development Fellowship program. We look forward to welcoming these interns during the summer of 2015.
When the 45-minute session wrapped, Secretary Pritzker immediately sat down with Katie Couric for a one on one. They discussed the unemployment report, manufacturing, and educational programs like the Flatiron School.
The honor was mine to not only meet Secretary Pritzker but to be at such an important conversation about representing RMS. I am thrilled that we as a company are committed to hiring such a diverse group of intellectuals and that education, no matter where it is obtained, is still at the core of who we are as an organization.
For more information about this event, see other blog posts: