Developing CUNY Students’ Digital Skills for the Tech Workforce

March 29, 2022

A new Graduate Center workforce development program funded by The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation will equip CUNY undergraduates with digital skills for tech sector jobs.

Student with computer - Photo courtesy of CUNY Archives
Photo courtesy of CUNY Archives

While hiring in the technology sector continues to grow, people of color and members of other minority groups remain underrepresented in the field. A new grant-funded workforce development initiative at the CUNY Graduate Center aims to address this disparity.

With generous support from The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the Graduate Center is starting the CUNY Undergraduate Workforce Development in Data Analysis and Visualization project to train and support CUNY students in skills that will enhance their tech sector employment opportunities. Undergraduates in the program will gain hands-on experience creating data analysis and visualization projects and will benefit from the guidance and expertise of Graduate Center Ph.D. students, faculty, alumni, and career center staff.

Twenty undergraduates from five partner programs — the CUNY Pipeline Program, Macaulay Honors College, the CUNY BA program, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and the Media Arts and Technology Program at Borough of Manhattan Community College — will be selected to participate in a one-week digital research institute that will be held in January 2023. Following the institute, students will meet biweekly in small groups with an adviser to work on their digital projects, culminating in the publishing of their projects in a digital portfolio. They will also present their work to faculty, administrators, and industry professionals at a showcase in May.

The curriculum for the institute will be based on the curriculum of the Graduate Center’s successful Digital Research Institute. Instruction will be provided by GC digital fellows — Ph.D. students who lead and contribute to digital scholarship initiatives at the Graduate Center. Institute topics will likely include introductions to Python, Git/GitHub, and HTML and CSS; ethics and digital research; digital project planning and publishing; mapping; and data literacies. The institute will also offer lunchtime talks, special sessions, and professional mentoring opportunities for the students.

The project comes at an auspicious time, with the Graduate Center’s new Center for Digital Scholarship and Data Visualization now under construction. Project leaders envision that this one-year initiative will be continued by the new center.

“Over the past decade, the GC has established itself as a national leader in areas such as data visualization, digital humanities, and data analysis,” said Professor Matthew K. Gold (EnglishDigital Humanities, Data Analysis and Visualization), director of GC Digital Initiatives, who is directing the project. “With the generous support of the Petrie Foundation, we will share our digital scholarship and training expertise with CUNY’s diverse students so that they can excel in New York’s growing tech sector. We are especially excited to host this project in the Center for Digital Scholarship and Data Visualization, which promises to do so much to build community around the Graduate Center’s digital initiatives.”

“We are grateful for the Petrie Foundation’s support, which allows us to fulfill CUNY’s promise as an engine of social mobility for its diverse and ambitious students,” said Lisa Rhody, the project’s deputy director and the deputy director of GC Digital Initiatives and director of the Digital Humanities Research Institute. “Our goal is to provide students with the tools and training they need to pursue rewarding careers in New York’s tech sector and, consequently, to improve New York’s tech sector by expanding its diversity.”


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