REACH turns five - Celebrating the power of apprenticeships
August 24, 2022
Every tech company wants to hire great talent, but many have historically hired based on pedigree -- where candidates went to school, where they worked and who they know. However, there's a pool of qualified talent who have followed non-traditional paths but may have been overlooked in traditional recruiting pipelines. Five years ago, we piloted our REACH program to help solve this problem by providing those with non-traditional software engineering backgrounds the opportunity to get their foot in the door and develop their coding skills. What began as a small six-month program across three engineering focus areas (UI, Apps, Mobile) has grown into a multi-year apprenticeship model that has helped over 170 people transform their careers and become a core part of our hiring rhythm. Today, we are celebrating REACH’s five year anniversary, which includes more than 90 active program apprentices working on more than 10 focus areas throughout North America, with plans to expand in the coming years.
REACH’s Skills-First Mission
REACH has created a new pipeline for hiring at LinkedIn that’s rooted in our vision to provide economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. We consider the program to be an effort in Investment Hiring, a committed approach to hiring and fostering talent centered around skill-building. REACH helps apprentices build their skill sets to create a stronger future for these apprentices, at LinkedIn, and the industry at large.
We started with a small dream to challenge recruiting norms and find passionate talent with great potential. As the program has grown, the impact has grown far beyond skills learned and apprentices hired – it has had a profound effect on the lives of individuals and their families. Apprentices come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds with previous roles ranging from warehouse managers, small business owners, non-profit workers, teachers, dieticians, and even a poker player. Over the years, many have grown into software engineers, site reliability engineers and technical leaders in their space, but more importantly, we have seen the impact that diversity, inclusion and belonging have had on LinkedIn and the industry at large. This is a testament to the power of doing good in the world along with doing good for the business.
Helping Apprentices Transform Their Careers
Programs like REACH provide opportunities that are more important than ever as people rethink their jobs and reevaluate what they are genuinely passionate about. With the Great Reshuffle, we’ve seen the workforce shift and certain jobs like machine learning engineers, back-end developers, and site reliability engineers rise in demand.
These career transformations are highlighted in some of the inspiring stories from current and past REACH apprentices:
- Born in Uruguay, Javier Orman was a professional violinist and music teacher in Chicago but when the COVID-19 pandemic upended the music industry, he began exploring new career paths. He started coding in 2020 and found an interest in AI and has been an AI Apprentice in REACH since July 2021, where he continues his newfound passion for turning data into smart decisions.
- Svitlana Anoshchenko, originally from Ukraine, worked as a Quality Assurance Engineer for six years. In 2018, her family moved to the United States where she had an H4 visa, with no permission to work in the USA, until May 2021. During those 3.5 years, she gave birth and when she could work again, decided to switch her career path. She joined REACH as an Android Engineer Apprentice in February 2022 to kick off her journey to becoming a Software Engineer.
- Judith Lung, LinkedIn’s first blind engineer, went to school as an English major and while getting her masters in rehab counseling, took programming courses on the side. These courses and her appreciation for how assisted technology enabled her to work better in school inspired her to apply to the REACH program. She’s been an Accessibility Engineering Apprentice since December 2019 (learn more about her journey here).
- Alex Harding moved to California from Sierra Leone in 2013. Within two months of his arrival, he began working at a warehouse and while his logistics industry career was promising, Alex had a burning desire to be a Software Engineer. Being mono-visioned and legally blind he opted for a “do it yourself” route and in June 2019, Alex joined the REACH program as a Software Engineer Apprentice. After 2.5 years, he moved beyond REACH to become an Information Security Engineer at LinkedIn.
Over the next five years, we envision expanding our areas of focus and bringing in more apprentices into additional roles across our R&D team. One particular initiative that I'm excited about is our partnership with LinkedIn's long-standing partner, Year Up, a workforce development non-profit organization supporting underserved young adults in accessing the economic mainstream. This year, we are creating pathways for Year Up interns to move into REACH apprenticeships with the goal of increasing opportunities for these talented and motivated young adults to continue their technical careers at LinkedIn.
Most importantly, I’m excited to continue creating real economic opportunities for those that have often been overlooked. At the core of REACH is the fundamental belief that top talent can come from anywhere. We’ll continue to find those passionate individuals and help them learn the skills necessary to realize a successful career in engineering.
If you or someone you know is interested in the REACH program, visit https://careers.linkedin.com/reach.