Meet our founder, Mike Roberts
CEO & Founder of Creating Coding Careers
Mike is passionate about helping underrepresented people break into tech and helping companies build high-performance engineering teams out of often-overlooked talent. Mike took a leap of faith and chose to start Creating Coding Careers, a non-profit organization dedicated to opening the front door in tech.
"Now not only am I doing what I was meant to do but I’m helping others. Which proves that when we dare to trust ourselves, that's when we can live a life where we are not only fulfilled, but we position ourselves to help many others live the life of their dreams. And now it's my life's work to show people that there are many pathways into tech. There is an opportunity right here, right now to change the trajectory, not only of the lives of so many overlooked Americans but also to shift corporate culture in America to live up to the racial and economic dreams of our society. This is why we are building the front door into tech. We are creating generational wealth, through employer driven earn and learn pathways for people historically excluded from tech."
"I am humbled to have helped so many people get better through my online training, coaching programs, and mentorship. Having launched more than 100 student careers and have grads working at IBM/RedHat, Apple, Walmart Labs, Sony, AWS, Facebook, Deloitte, Trust & Will, and many more amazing tech companies, I am blessed to be making a difference in so many lives. My superpower is helping gritty people grow and get better at writing quality software." - Mike Roberts
From the day I unboxed our family’s first home computer I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in technology. This is my ticket to making interesting things, solving complex problems, and always being on the cutting edge. It’s 1994 and I'm in the kitchen and I'm talking to my dad about what I want to do when I graduate. So my dad asks, “all right, what are you planning to go to school for?” And I say, “Dad, I want to be a programmer.” Silence. Dad gives me the look… It’s the one filled with anger and disappointment and it always terrifies me. And he says, “no one goes to school to become a programmer.” My heart sinks, and I think as fast as I can… well, I like money, I like business. I blurt out “Maybe I will go to school for accounting.” Dad emotionlessly says, “ok.” I am relieved to not continue to feel like a disappointment to my parents. Fast forward to my first day in accounting class. The professor is handing huge packets and what feels like a mountain of work that will be required to pass this first class. I feel like I am having a panic attack, and the reality of what it takes to become an accountant, something I have only a passing interest in doing suddenly feels impossible. I get up and walk out of the class. I am not going to be an accountant. I start taking random classes and six years later I still haven't finished school. I’m working three part time jobs, as I have been doing since graduating High School. I am still young but I am getting tired of the grind of dead end jobs and school which just seems to drag on with no end in sight. The only thing I get excited about is my secret hobby which is coding.
One day I get an assignment from my boss to help build a small piece of softwar e. Even though I'm not working at a tech company, I quickly realize I’m pretty good at the task. Good enough to figure out a way to make some extra money writing code part time. Within a few months I am doing well enough to quit my job and take on a few more programmers to do projects. My side hustle suddenly propels me into a career as a software engineer. Within 6 years I no longer freelance and have been working at a tech startup as a senior software engineer… a dream job, in a fancy office, with Dogs, catered meals, and all the “Big Tech” perks. I’ve finally finished my degree in Computer Science. I am starting to share my journey at meetups with anyone who will listen to how amazing it is to code. But, even though I have a chance to do what I love I hardly see anyone that looks like me at my company. I am one of the only Black people in the room at nearly every tech company I visit. It feels strange to have this privilege and not see anyone else like me living this lifestyle. A few years later I take a job at a coding bootcamp thinking hopefully I can change the culture and get more people into tech from a variety of overlooked backgrounds. At the program we start to really make progress creating opportunities for people, and then the bootcamp gets shut down. In that moment I experience unemployment for the first time. I realize I have to go back to a career as a software engineer, or step into entrepreneurship and keep pushing for change. I am so scared that I won’t be able to make it work. I just turned 40. I have no savings to start a business. I only have my previous business experience running a small agency. I have a young son and family obligations. The safe thing is to get another job as a software engineer, but I also remember the safe choice I made in the kitchen with my Dad.
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