It Pays To Get Your Kids To Learn To Code, Says Microsoft Recruiter For HBCUs

Written by Dana Sanchez
Loading player...

In case you missed the recent 500 Startups Unity and Inclusion Summit (Atlanta) at TechSquare Labs, we’ve got you covered. was in Atlanta for the event, which provided a forum for some of the newest ideas around reversing inequality in tech. This is the fifth in a series of Moguldom videos from 500 Startups Unity and Inclusion Summit (Atlanta), June 10, 2017.

Tech internships pay some of the best salaries anywhere, and some 19-, 20- and 21-year-old students from historically Black colleges and universities are now in opportunities where they’re earning around $8,000 a month.

Students who start to code at age 13, 14, and 15 are coveted in the market, said Matt Poole, a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta who was recently hired by Microsoft as a recruiter at HBCUs.

Young coders are getting hired at Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft — tech companies that are paying $90,000, $100,000 and $110,000 as starting salaries for engineers, Poole said.

Poole works with Tech Square Labs, an Atlanta incubator, seed fund and coworking space. Through the Opportunity Ecosystem HBCU@SXSW program, he helped bring 100 students from HBCUs to this year’s SXSW event. It’s part of an effort to help increase diversity and inclusion in the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem.

A handful of Black students who attended this year’s SXSW tech, film and music event in Austin received internships and full-time opportunities as a result of the connections they made there, Poole told on the sidelines of the 500 Startups Unity and Inclusion Summit (Atlanta) at TechSquare Labs.

For college students, internships are experiences that can make or break a career. Some experiences are better than others.

Internships that pay $8,000 a month are not everyday opportunities, Poole said by way of a reality check. “They are really rare,” he said, “but we’re giving those opportunities to Black and minority students that would never have opportunities like that.”

What type of expertise do students have who are landing $8,000-a-month jobs?

“They’re at a level of junior developers — people who can take on top-of-the-line tasks for Fortune 100 companies,” Poole said. “They are the cream of the crop compared to all others out there.”

Students from HBCUs who are going to work at Google, Twitter, Pandora, Microsoft and IBM are competing with students from Stanford, Harvard, other Ivy League schools and schools like the University of Southern California for these types of positions.

How did these students get to that place where they can be recruited by the top tech companies in the country?

A lot of students are starting their journey in development as of their freshman year in college, Poole told Some come in with technical experience, but many are just starting to code from freshman year.

“Having all your classes going just towards coding, after two years you’re competitive enough with a junior developer. So these junior developers can be recruited for an array of positions. A lot of them are coming in with very plain expertise but there are some who have been coding since middle school. The students that have been in tech since middle school, those are the ones that you will see that come into college and after their first year in college, they’re interning at Google or Apple or Microsoft. The students that start coding at 13, 14, 15 — they’re immediately going to be competing for Google, Apple and Microsoft positions.

What’s your message to parents who say their kids are spending too much time on the computer and not enough time outside playing sports? How can they direct their kids for their future?

Every kids is not going to be a developer for Intel … communicate to your children that you can do whatever you want to do. Expose your children to tech in a way they can gravitate to it because in the future, everything children will do is going to be dictated by technology. If you’re on the side that can help create that technology or from that side that can help make a future for that technology, your life is going to be a lot simpler. Make technology seem accessible to children. It’ll really help them out.

Poole has a degree in business administration but most of his professional experiences have been in technology. During school, he founded When&Where — a social startup platform for discovering events and sharing experiences while attending events.


Sign up for the Moguldom newsletter — the most compelling business news you need to know about reversing inequality in tech, delivered straight to your inbox.

View Comments