Some students at the MyTechBestFriend academy have always been a little suspicious of the program and its founder, Mary Awodele.
Since its founding in 2020, a whisper network murmured that many of the materials taught by the academy were plagiarized from various other online programs, such as those from Google or Salesforce. Founded by Awodele in 2020, MyTechBestFriend (MTBF) launched to public acclaim, especially within the Black tech community. For a minimum of $3,000, it offers to teach people skills, such as technical writing, and help them find high-paying tech jobs.
A lot of the people who signed up for MTBF were new to tech. Some took out loans, quit their jobs or used their savings to participate in the program. Many didn’t know that ServiceNow, Google and Salesforce offered very similar — if not identical — courses for free or at a much lower cost. Those who did know were afraid to speak out. Until now, that is.
The last straw
Last Monday afternoon, Mary Awodele sat in a Zoom meeting with her camera off. The students attending her academy, MyTechBestFriend, were upset. Earlier that day, Awodele had suddenly removed a student from their Cohort 2 Discord chat who had asked a question, those familiar with the situation said. Others privy to goings on at MTBF say the Discord incident was not the first time Awodele had allegedly punished a student for speaking.
“We all got really scared and nervous because we could ask a question, and depending on what kind of question it is and the way she takes it, that could be the end to your acceptance,” said Mandy, a former student, recalling to TechCrunch what the day-to-day at MTBF was like. (TechCrunch granted anonymity to former students so they could speak freely about their time at MTBF. We’re using a pseudonym here.)
But after two years of what students alleged to be poor leadership and a culture of silence, they were set on making this incident the last time Awodele retaliated against a boot camp attendee. Those in the Cohort 2 Discord group recalled that after the ousting, a fellow student quickly came to the removed student’s defense. Then shortly after, another student, in frustration, shared in the Discord chat a video that Awodele had made only the day before.
It was an Instagram video, seen by TechCrunch, in which Awodele said she would no longer serve as a reference for students who didn’t tell her if they’ve obtained a job offer. Awodele, who is Black, said that people receiving job offers without telling her was worse than being called the N-word — and she used a hard “R.” The students were stunned. Chaos ensued in the Cohort 2 Discord.