Alexandra Clare (SPS '15)
Co-Founder, Re:Coded

What that means:
Re:Coded trains conflict-affected youth how to code through immersive boot camps and creates pathways for economic opportunity through apprenticeships and job placement in the technology industry. We operate in two countries (Iraq and Turkey) and on a day-to-day basis. I spent my time overseeing our teams in each country as well as working on strategy, funding, and growth plans for the next 12 months. I also head up partner development and build networks with like-minded organizations.

No day looks the same at the moment. At a startup, you wear multiple hats which has been both the most exciting and challenging part of my job. Some days, I’m working on a grant proposal and others are spent strategizing with the team or in the classroom with students.

Starting Re:Coded was a total deviation from my original plans! I am an international lawyer by trade and was set to move to Geneva to work in Humanitarian Diplomacy for the International Committee of the Red Cross after graduation. However, after first traveling to Iraq as part of a peacebuilding initiative linked to my Masters, I witnessed millions of Iraqis fleeing Mosul in the wake of ISIS, compounding an already dire humanitarian crisis. At the time, only three percent of displaced youth had access to education, while dignified employment opportunities were scarce.

On a research trip back to Iraq a couple of months later, I set to work interviewing over 400 youth to understand what skills they dreamed of learning. When 98 percent responded “technology,” the idea for Re:Coded started to form.

After graduation, I decided to take the plunge and launch Re:Coded, rather than go to Geneva. I was lucky to have the backing of NYU and the pilot was incubated by the Center for Global Affairs for our first year of operations. After successfully getting proof of concept, we registered Re:Coded as a non-profit in May 2017.

Most rewarding part of the job:
Seeing the transformation of our students throughout the program and then witnessing them succeed after graduating is by far the most rewarding thing about my job! We’ve now graduated over 110 youth and 250 children from our programs, and all of them have gone on to achieve incredible things.

How studying at NYU helped me:
My Masters taught me to think critically and enabled me to take the plunge to get field experience working in countries like Iraq that I’d only ever dreamed of! Without the NYU experience, I never would have started Re:Coded.

What I miss most about being at NYU:
The freedom and time to spend learning something just because you find something fascinating. Time has become such a precious resource and sometimes I wish I could go back to the days at the beginning of a semester where everything feels full of possibility.

What I find most surprising:
Everything – I don’t think I ever imagined myself to be an entrepreneur, let alone one trying to transform the future of education in conflict-affected countries. We’ve basically learnt everything on the job and continue to improve every time we launch a program. One of the hardest lessons we’ve learnt (and continue to learn) is also how to build a great team, develop an organizational culture that you love, and also scale operations in a complex environment!

Advice for current students thinking about a similar career:
Social entrepreneurship is one of the hardest but most rewarding fields to enter so, if you're truly passionate about it, keep persevering. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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