UP School is established in 2020 and had 200 graduates so far, empowering women’s employment in tech
UP School is a start-up operating in gender equality, focusing on women’s employment in tech industry. To do this it offers online bootcamps with an intense curriculum covering data science and software development. Following 3-6 months bootcamp, UP School helps to find jobs. “We launch training programs that are specifically selected to meet the company’s talent needs such as mobile developers, backend developers or data analysts.
In the assessment step, we select the students as we hire them. The participants join an online-intensive training program giving complete flexibility to learn,” said Mina İlköz, Co-founder and CEO at UP School. So far, UP School had more than 200 graduates, with a program completion rate of 96%. I interviewed Mina İlköz and here’s what she told me.
What is UP School? What are you doing exactly?
UP School is an ed-tech and employment start-up that exists to close both the gender and talent gaps in the tech sector. We offer online bootcamps for women, following an intense tech curriculum (data science/software development) combined with core-skill training (resilience, creative problem solving, professional communication, giving/receiving feedback etc.). Once students graduate after a 3-6 months bootcamp, we help them to find jobs.
Our value proposition for partnering firms is saving them time, money and energy by creating direct access to high skilled and underrepresented employees that have been trained to meet their demands. Overall, we aim to develop female role models in tech.
How does your system work?
We launch training programs that are specifically selected to meet the company’s talent needs such as mobile developers, backend developers or data analysts.
In the assessment step, we select the students as we hire them. The participants join an online-intensive training program giving complete flexibility to learn. These programs include 8 hours of technical skill classes and 2 hours of soft skill development weekly during 3-6 months training, depending on the area. Every week, a selected mentor from the industry meets the students, shares experiences and answers questions. Students are supported by Teaching Assistant who also grade their weekly homework and a final group project. Upon graduation, we distribute the students’ CVs to our partnering firms and arrange interviews for UP School graduates. Our goal is to match the right talent for the right job.
How many applications did you receive so far? And what are the criteria for the applications?
We have received more than 8.500 applications to our 15 programs. Female senior university students and university graduates can apply to these programs if they have the motivation for employment in a related area. We receive our applications with an online form and once the candidates fit the required qualifications, we send an English and coding test.
Finally, candidates who pass the exams are invited for an online interview. We are looking for potential UP School students who have a growth mindset and a strong interest in the role they want to be in the future.
I know you have different business models. Can you elaborate them?
Yes, indeed. We have two main revenue streams. Firstly, the company pays a fee once they hire UP School graduates, similar to the headhunter model. Akbank, Getir, İş Bankası, Ödeal and Sodexo are some of the companies that have hired our graduates so far. Secondly, we design a tailor-made training program for the company, especially requiring many developers. ING Turkey, Ford Motor Company, Hepsiburada, Akbank are examples of preferring to work with this model.
How about the candidate side? Should the candidates pay any amount to enter your programs?
If the program has a program partner, as I mention second model above; students join the program free of charge. In addition to these models, we also have also a B2C model which is very few in specific programs. Student pays tuition with education credit from the banks UP School has partnered with and she pays the credit amount after starting their tech career.
How many women did graduate from your programs? And can you mention their categories?
So far, we have had 200+ graduates, with a program completion rate of 96%. UP School graduates completed in programs such as RPA, Android, iOS, frontend, java development, data analysis and science.
Among our graduates, more than 70% of them are already employed. Turkish tech companies welcome our graduates as competent female future leaders in tech; 9 out of 10 tech-recruiter we work with recommend UP School graduates.
Did you get any investments? If not, is there any investment on the horizon?
We got pre-seed investment and are about to announce our seed investment soon.
What are your future plans? Can you explain them?
We will reach over 5000 women in two years to place them in tech roles in Turkey and abroad. We are working on developing products that will automate our process in all areas of assessment, training and job placement to achieve our goal of large numbers. Our focus for upcoming programs is Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Development.
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