Ryan Tillman-French – Importance of Diversity in Tech and Becoming a Resilient Coder

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Ryan Tillman-French STEAM Boston
Photo Courtesy of Ryan Tillman-French

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I’m 25-years-old and moved to Boston about a year and a half ago. The reason why I moved to Boston was because I had a friend that went to Brown University and she had been working at Google in Cambridge for about three years. She had been telling me to come down to Boston just to visit and possibly live here. I was like I’ll come down to Boston for my birthday, and if it’s dope, then I’ll move to Boston. I came to Boston, and it was great. I wish I had taken more time to research, I realize now how much it costs to live in Boston and I think that would have changed my mind.

When you came to Boston, were you looking for a specific job/career path to pursue?

I have an associate’s degree that I’ve been sitting on. Boston is a big college town, so I was coming to Boston to finish my degree. My best-friend that worked at Google had been telling me to code, and I was not feeling it. I went to school for finance, and I wanted to get my master’s in finance and become a financial advisor. My friend kept telling me to get into coding and then I decided to make the switch after months of convincing.

What drew you to Resilient Coders?

My friend kept sending me different boot camps in Boston. She knew about Resilient Coders because Google is a partner. When Resilient Coders sent their new alumni/upcoming hackathon e-mail, she sent it to me, and she was like I think you should really check this out. I looked on the website and read about the past graduates from the program. I was like the worst-case scenario, I’ll waste a few hours out of my day.

I came to the hackathon, I met David Delmar and Leon Noel. It was something about the way how passionate Del is and sitting in the room with Leon for an extended time, you can see how cool he is. If Del and Leon are that passionate about helping, then I definitely want to be part of the program. I was here in Boston for two months, and I begged Del to let me in because I wasn’t a Boston citizen. I was like, if you let me in, I’m gonna graduate. I got the call in two days that I was accepted into the Bootcamp. When I started to get into coding, I was like it is going to take me a few years to catch up but the program changed years to weeks.

What do you think about diversity in tech?

I think diversity is like multi-leveled. I don’t believe it is just black or white. Black people don’t come towards coding because it’s nothing to link what we see in our everyday life to coding. It’s nothing like math or science, like careers you see a direct path to. Coding was outside the realm of career paths when I was growing up in my community. I’ve seen companies that have like one female, and I’m like this is really bad. One thing that annoys me is that companies put a bullet point saying that they’re diverse and we hire from boot camps. But, there is no real action behind it. I just think that they’re happy to say they are but not actively trying to search and find those diverse people.

What advice do you have for the STEAM Boston community?

When I was at Resilient Coders, I had to work at night at Wegmans. I would leave the program then work all night and come back in the morning for class. There was a lot of sleepless nights, but I had to put in the work. Once I was done with the program, I got my sleep schedule back right. For students that are either looking to code or whatever you want to pursue, if you put in the work, then the results will surely come after. Just have patience.


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