Biz Talk: Arlington Talent Program accepting applications

November 15, 2023


The Arlington Talent Program (ATP) is now accepting applications for its second year of providing paid, on-the-job learning opportunities to Arlington and Alexandria residents interested in launching a career in software development.

The innovative program is a partnership between Arlington Economic Development (AED) and Arlington-based software consultancy Exelaration. It is a new way to address the ongoing challenges of finding tech workers to fill open jobs in the region.

From Learners to Coders

The Arlington Talent Program’s initial year yielded remarkable results, including a 100% program completion rate and a 100% received the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) credential. Most participants have transitioned to full-time tech employment with their new knowledge of high-demand program languages (e.g., HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Angular). The average pay and work rate for participants have increased by 26% and 38%, respectively, and will continue to rise as they gain experience and advancement. These achievements represent not just statistics but tangible transformations in the participants’ lives.

“The Arlington Talent Pilot Program offered me a great opportunity to enter the field with no formal and relevant background in IT, in addition to stellar mentorship on real-world projects to gain both experience and theoretical knowledge,” said participant Liam Cespedes, who was part of the first cohort and is continuing work on client projects.

AED and Exelaration designed this program to allow Arlington and Alexandria residents to enter the tech workforce without a college degree or prior tech experience requirements. The competitive pilot program accepted applications from dozens of individuals for each cohort, many of whom showed promise in the tech field but lacked those traditional resume credentials to find work.

AED and Exelaration are proud to have collaborated with partners at Capital Youth Empowerment Program, Bridges to Independence, Alexandria-Arlington Regional Workforce Council, and Virginia Values Veterans to advertise this program and ensure this unique opportunity reached underrepresented and underserved communities.

Applications for the next cohort are open through Nov. 26. Accepted participants will work full-time with Exelaration for 12 weeks beginning on Jan. 23, 2024. For more information or to apply, visit

Opportunities for Businesses

Companies needing IT modernization and custom software solutions also benefit from the Arlington Talent Pilot Program. Companies receive quality work products led by experienced software developers and can save significantly with the blended billable rate by including learners on projects.

Arlington-based Agile technology firm Excella recently partnered with the program to expand one of its federal modernization projects. The Exelaration team works closely with the larger Excella team to upgrade enterprise software within a Ruby on Rails environment. In addition to the modernized software, Excella has the option of hiring learners who are now skilled engineers fully trained in their environment. “Competing for talent is hard, and this program gives us a proven way to add trained professionals to our teams, who help us meet our clients’ mission,” says Excella’s National Security Director, Allison Harvey.

The upcoming program adds more software engineering capacity to take on new company partners. “We especially love to work with Arlington companies, but we’re happy to work with organizations across the country looking to modernize their technology,” says Exelaration CEO Steve Cooper, who adds that the program is looking for additional client companies who could benefit from the work of these budding engineers.

Companies can connect with the program in other ways, too. Arlington Community Federal Credit Union hosted a lunch for the fall team inside their technology shop. This gave the emerging engineers a “day-in-the-life” view of what it’s like to have a tech job. Over kabobs and tacos, Credit Union CIO David Martinez and his team answered questions about the rewards and challenges of IT careers.

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