The Enormous Value of Cross-Trained Workers

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Rebekah Rombom is chief business development officer

Flatiron School offers transformative technical bootcamps to retrain existing employees. As we continue our discussion with our good friends at Learn In, we’ll highlight ways women can take towards greater gender skill-building equity.

What Existing Employees From Across Your Organization Can Bring to Your Technical Teams

The most common jobs for women in the US involve people, communication, and caregiving: Nursing, teaching, customer service, people management. We don’t always associate these skills with exceptional tech workers. But we should. 

One of Flatiron School’s early graduates was a customer service associate, then a project manager, before coming to Flatiron School. She’d always been fascinated by the work she observed happening in technology departments, but never really thought coding was for her — until a colleague encouraged her otherwise. 

She took to the craft of writing software, and found that her training in music and her experience working in jobs that require communication and empathy served her well in collaborating with fellow students and producing quality work in a group. She had three job offers weeks after graduation, and is now a Lead Engineer at a top media company.

Cross-training is one of the most valuable assets for a technical job candidate. Cross-trained candidates may have experienced the very problem your technology is trying to solve. They may have better strategies for navigating customer problems; they may see those problems from a different angle, because of their prior experience.

Women are still woefully underrepresented in technical roles, but many women have been gaining skills in other areas of the labor market that can be readily applied to technical problems and workflows — like these four Flatiron School grads:

1. Bernadine Okoro

Before becoming a Cybersecurity Analyst, Bernadine was a science teacher and writer, and created trainings on social-emotional learning. She's an expert at communicating complex technical content to diverse audiences who might not be listening.

2. Malia Kokame

UX Designer Malia previously ran her own jewelry company as designer, fabricator, and head of digital creative. She has a fashion & apparel design degree from FIT. She has been turning ideas into physical and digital things for over a decade.

3. Mari Galdina

Mari had a decade of experience as a DBA and QA Engineer before becoming a Data Scientist. She holds two Masters: One in Computer Information Systems and the other in Economics, Stats, and Informatics. Mari also writes blogs about data science and programming problems.

4. Saima Akhtar

Saima’s work as a software engineer is informed by her research & training in psychology and architecture — in which she holds a bachelor, masters, and PhD. For three years, she helped lead and manage the construction of a web platform that digitally documented cultural heritage sites in Syria. Saima has been merging technology with research, academics, and design in different contexts throughout her career.

With a bit of exploration into these individuals’ prior skills, it’s straightforward to see how cross-trained team members can add enormous value — including candidates inside your company, who know the values, culture and working style that drives projects forward at your organization. 

Benefits of cross-training your employees

1. Customer and client empathy. 

A candidate coming from a different background may have seen your customer’s problem. They may have been your customer. Technologists with more-formal training and tech-only work experience will have seen more and tried more with their technology toolkit. That’s valuable. Technologists who have worked as a stakeholder in your industry before building technology to serve it are a useful complement.

2. New thought patterns for problem-solving. 

It’s now well-documented that teams with more cognitive diversity are more effective at problem-solving. Cross-trained team members bring those experiences to bear on your technical team.

3. Experience collaborating deeply and effectively. 

Newly-trained team members coming from different roles have often had jobs — like those most common US jobs for women — that require extensive collaboration to get work done. Building technology can be done alone, but in any sizable organization, it’s a team sport. A teammate who knows how to empathize, influence, and communicate is an asset.

Summary

We invite you to join Flatiron School along with Learn In on a panel conversation about crushing the gender gap. Date: September 22, 2021 Time:  3:00 P.M. (EST) Register

Deep mastery helps drive great performance. Mastery plus broader context is a secret weapon. Teams with both are unstoppable.

Have you considered your organization’s skills gap? What technology adoption issues are your employees facing? 

As our workplaces shift farther into the digital realm, the right training can empower your organization and your workers to leverage non-technical skills, layered with new technical mastery, to fill business critical roles 

Flatiron School offers targeted, engaging, outcomes-oriented Software Engineering training, Data Science training, UX/UI Design training, and Cybersecurity training.  Contact enterprise@flatironschool.com to see what we can create for your team. 

About Learn In

Learn In is the first talent-building platform designed for companies to solve every barrier that stands in the way of creating tomorrow’s workforce. Organizations use Learn In to identify talent-building goals, design skill-based programs, learn together in cohorts with coaches, and access flexible financing, delivering measurable outcomes for every dollar spent on upskilling the workforce. Co-founded by the founders of Degreed, Learn In is backed by leading edtech & future-of-work investors, including GSV, Album, Firework Ventures, and Village Global, and has been covered in CNBC, USA Today, EdTechReview, EdSurge, and Techcrunch.

Headshot of Rebekah Rombom

Rebekah Rombom

General Manager of Online Education

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