BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s a huge need for employees to fill tech jobs here in WNY, and a local non-profit, along with local businesses, is helping to fulfill those needs. And you don’t need any prior tech knowledge to get that help.
Namita Acharya is in her first month working at ACV Auctions. The single mother helps analyze data at the 43 North winning company, which uses an online auction platform to help car dealerships buy and sell vehicles.
Just six months ago, the computer screen full of codes that she works on daily would be a foreign language to her.
“I mean I had used Excel very basically,” Namita answers after asked if she had any prior knowledge of the tech world.
Acharya last worked in higher education. She got her MBA years ago, but realized she needed some updated skills. So she left her job to try and train herself, and a week later, she found out about a non-profit called TechBuffalo and a free bootcamp they were offering.
“Tech skills are relevant through almost every single industry,” Sarah Tanbukuchi said, the president/CEO of TechBuffalo. “You can look at almost every single company, particularly the large companies in WNY and those tech skills are imperative to the way those companies are evolving.”
Nineteen people ranging in age from their late teens, to their mid-50s took part in the bootcamp from January through May. It was five days a week, eight hours a day. They all had little to no knowledge about the tech world beforehand. Some of them were in a rut at their jobs, and needed a fresh start.
That was the case for JahJah Quarles.
“It is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Quarles said.
The 30 year old was a corrections officer who had opened up Excel before, but that was about it. Now, he has a mastery of Excel, different coding languages, many different dashboards and tools necessary for the industry and more.
“The more and more it progressed, the more I realized I could learn anything,” he said. “And at that point it was like, ‘Anything can be for you,’ which is something I try to tell everyone. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
The training was put together by TechBuffalo with the help of five local businesses: M&T Bank, ACV Auctions, Rich Food Products, Moog and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY. The businesses paid for parking, lunch and even gave the students a stipend.
All 19 made it through the training and ended with presentations to those local businesses. By the end of the week, they had job offers with salaries ranging between 45k – 65k.
JahJah got a job with M&T Bank and said the sky is the limit.
“It’s never too late, you’re never too old, you’re never too young, you can always give it a try,” he said. “There were people in our class that were 18, there were people in our class over 50, and we all came together and supported each other because anybody can do it.”
“It was the most nurturing, supportive, collaborative environment,” Acharya said.
This bootcamp was the first of its kind for TechBuffalo, and they’re now going over how it went before they plan another one. But the non-profit has a lot of other resources to help anyone looking for a tech job, or businesses looking for employees in tech. Click here for more information.
Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.