Norfolk State hosts Netflix HBCU Boot Camp


Courtesy: Norfolk Statek

In October 2020, Norfolk State University announced a partnership with Netflix Inc., the world’s leading entertainment streaming service with 204 million paid memberships in over 190 countries, and 2U, a global leader in technology education, to create the Netflix HBCU Boot Camp. The program offers students the opportunity to develop market-oriented skills in advanced Java programming, applied data science, and UX / UI (User Interface / User Interface Engineering) through the groundbreaking curricula developed by industry experts and Netflix experts. Accepted students will receive a Netflix scholarship to cover attendance costs. The boot camp, which is championed by NSU alumnus and Netflix senior engineer Michael Chase, is the first at an HBCU and is intended to serve as a model.

If we really hope to increase black representation in the tech industry, we need to fill our current gaps while expanding access to black students, ”said Kabi Gishuru, director of inclusion recruitment programs at Netflix. “It starts with consciously building future talent pipelines. These boot camps are only one step in that direction, but we cannot do it alone. We hope that more companies at college level will invest in technical training for black talent and thus contribute to a necessary change in the future of our industry. “

Dr. Claude Turner, professor and chairman of the Norfolk State Department of Computer Science, says the Netflix partnership benefits the university in several ways, including:

  • offers industry-specific training in three areas of need in the private and public sectors: Applied Data Science, Java and UI / UX.
  • Provision of scholarships for students,
  • financial support for student activities.

The first virtual bootcamp started in January 2021. Eighty students have enrolled, mostly from the science and engineering fields, but 17 students come from “other than” science fields. According to the Netflix HBCU Boot Camp website, any major is welcome to apply and join the program. Through this partnership, Netflix HBCU Boot Camp offers state-of-the-art programs that allow students and alumni to attend a 16-week course. This next generation of students will receive hands-on education for the tech industry while also building the critical professional portfolio that will demonstrate their knowledge. In addition, the students build up personal mentoring with experienced Netflix employees in order to ideally build long-term network relationships.

Vernā Meyers, Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, said, “The most important thing we have learned is that combining the Netflix culture with diversity and inclusion unlocks our ability to innovate, be creative and solve problems. It breaks up groupthink. It brings different lived experiences and perspectives to a problem so that we no longer solve it in the old way. And we are able to better entertain our current and future members. “

Chase expects the boot camp to have at least two positive results. “I hope that we get more NSU representations at Netflix. Introducing students and graduates to these high-tech roles expands our representation, ”he said. “It’s our responsibility to think about a long-term pipeline.” Chase sees the partnership as an opportunity to get high-tech companies to look for NSU students and as an opportunity for students to acquire the skills they need to get jobs in high-tech Tech companies to get. Because Chase sees it this way: “It’s good business to have different employees in a company.”

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