NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Do Something

Apply for the fellowship

WHAT: Interactive Mechanics Fellowship Program

WHO: Entry- and junior-level designers and developers from underrepresented groups in the field

WHEN: The program runs from September to May; Application deadline is August 12, 2016

HOW: Apply here

Connect WITH OUR SOCIAL ACTION TEAM



The Citizen Recommends: Diversity in Tech

Local digital design firm Interactive Mechanics launches fellowship to help underrepresented developers grow their careers

Local digital design firm Interactive Mechanics launches fellowship to help underrepresented developers grow their careers

It isn’t exactly news that the tech industry has a diversity problem. Call them techbros or brogrammers, the problem is the same: There is a pervasive industry culture where young white males are hired and rise to the top at the expense of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and those with disabilities.

Look no further than Facebook’s latest diversity report for proof. Among those doing technical work at the company, 17 percent are women, three percent are Hispanic and a deplorable one percent are African American.

It’s a problem Mark Zuckerberg seems to recognize. Last month, the company pledged $15 million over the course of five years to Code.org to help the non-profit teach more students from underrepresented groups how to code. But that massive cash influx only addresses the skill set component of the problem. It doesn’t speak to job placement, mentorship, professional growth, networking, continuing education or collaborative project development.

That’s where a brand new fellowship program by the Center City digital design firm, Interactive Mechanics, comes in.

“We’re starting this program as a response to a couple of things—the well-documented lack of diversity in the tech sector and the experiences some members of our team had in other programs,” said Michael Tedeschi, Interactive Mechanics’ owner and creative director (and its only white male). 

With the intention of removing some of the common barriers to those historically underrepresented in the tech field, Interactive Mechanics is accepting applications from entry- and junior-level designers and developers until August 12, for its first class to start in September. Although the program is geared toward those not typically represented in tech, they say anybody can apply.

If all goes well, fellows will leave after nine months having developed an improved portfolio of their work, a larger arsenal of hard and soft skills, and a stronger professional network that will sustain and advance them in a field where they are the minority.

Interactive Mechanics, whose clients include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia and Ford’s Theatre, says that the fellowship is a part-time, low-residency program to help those who are already in the field but may not be receiving the developmental help they need to advance in their careers.

“We’re starting this program as a response to a couple of things—the well-documented lack of diversity in the tech sector and the experiences some members of our team had in other programs,” said Michael Tedeschi, Interactive Mechanics’ owner and creative director (and its only white male). “Some programs that are otherwise awesome are unpaid or require significant time commitment. That narrows the applicant pool.”

At the outset, fellows will be assigned a mentor who will help clarify goals for the fellowship and beyond so they can develop their skills in design, front-end development and back-end development—everything from HTML and CSS to PHP and Omeka. Fellows work September through May on a portfolio-building project tailored to their learning objective and appropriate for their skill level relating to one of Interactive Mechanics’ areas of interest: higher education or arts and culture. Work will be done remotely, but weekly check-ins will help fellows meet benchmark goals over the course of their fellowship.

Each month, leaders in the field will speak at roundtables to the group on everything from interpersonal communication to project management to work-life balance and give fellows an opportunity to network. And every month Interactive Mechanics will open its doors so staff members can offer their expertise during set office hours.  

“Part of our mission is to share what we know, through in-house workshops and work with local groups like Girl Develop It and Coded by Kids,” said Tedeschi. “The fellowship program is an extension of that effort.”

Tedeschi also said that the program is meant to be a mutual learning experience for fellows and the firm’s team, which will help Interactive Mechanics change as needed.

“We’ve seen first-hand how a diverse team can benefit a technology company, and we expect that this will educate us as well.” he said. “We hope that the program helps fellows not only build their skills but also forge connections and find opportunities that will help them build lasting and rewarding careers in tech.”

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

thephilacitizen @thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
#DoSomething ⚡️ Learn about the silences of war and the reintegration of veterans, click here for details:… https://t.co/HchTB5qZZc 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
As part of a series on the upcoming election, an urban demographer looks at how the state house races are likely to… https://t.co/EM7VdvZCnQ 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
#DoSomething ⚡️ Did you make it to the Historical Society for a night discussing the integration of veterans? Share… https://t.co/ojq1c8TLgC 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Catch @roxanneshep on @onwurd right now! She’ll be discussing her piece on litter in Philly. Let’s clean up: https://t.co/7Vw4vrWyLN 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Democrats have been the net winners from these registration gains overall, widening their registration advantage o… https://t.co/fX3WxU3baa 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
⚡️🚨 The Citizen is looking for Fall 2018 interns! See the flyer for more info. Get in contact soon! https://t.co/DExohBXXhv 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Did you know, Pennsylvania leads the nation in under-30 voter registration: @jongeeting https://t.co/tRR92H9UT5 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
#CitizenCast | Reality Check on WURD catches up with Kait Bowdler, the deputy director of sustainability for Philab… https://t.co/iXontbFgI1 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
RT @selmekki:We are looking for Brothers to help us welcome our youth on the first day of classes. Suit Up. Show Up. Come celebr… https://t.co/W6tQV4xAOE 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
RT @MHerz67:Soaring voter registration by young people in PA shows the wisdom of making registration easier. Same-day registrat… https://t.co/VoTREYr8h6 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
#DoSomething ⚡️ Join @TaranaBurke tonight for a discussion about the origins of the #MeToo movement. Click here for… https://t.co/v3h7GcBUn3 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
By inviting community activists to serve as docents and make up the stories behind its art, the Barnes is disruptin… https://t.co/E5OwS17Tfj 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Philly 3.0’s engagement director breaks down Pennsylvania’s surge in youth voter registration: @jongeeting @Phila3_0 https://t.co/tRR92H9UT5 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
#DoSomething ⚡️ Did you get your hands dirty with @JFarmSchool and @repairtheworld? Check out the rest of the week'… https://t.co/3ik9Fh1NpE 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story