When Jessica Corrigan, ’12, started her career, she didn’t expect to find herself in the tech world. Now, as the newly appointed director of M&T Bank’s Tech Academy, Corrigan is right at the heart of Buffalo’s rising tech scene, supporting new and seasoned technologists alike on their unique tech journeys.
The Tech Academy’s mission is two-fold: to upskill and reskill current M&T technologists, and to create equitable opportunities for community members in Buffalo and Western New York.
To Corrigan, these twin missions work together in harmony.
“I’ve been selling this cyclical mindset,” said Corrigan, who sees the dual-faceted mission as two avenues of movement working together. The inward movement—the community engagement aspect—focuses on fostering a welcoming environment for individuals looking to enter the tech field, while the upward movement focuses on teaching new technology skills to existing employees.
“If inward and upward are done well and consistently over time, they will eventually pour outward into the community,” she said, “and then it repeats. That’s where this cyclical mindset comes from.”
Corrigan’s own journey into the tech field was not typical, nor was it planned. After graduating from Buffalo State with a degree in public communication, she landed an executive position with Sephora, where she was able to travel the world and work with various corporate partners—including quite a few tech companies. With Sephora, Corrigan realized just how reliant on technology people are, and how technology is embedded in all aspects of their lives in one way or another.
“I was living all over the globe, and I was completely reliant on technology to be connected to my colleagues,” she said.
But Sephora was just the beginning of her tech awakening. Corrigan later worked with the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) where, as leader of the Business Service Team, she played a key role in several projects, including its On-the-Job Training Program and the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Part of her role with the WIB was to secure funding for small businesses and initiatives in the area, and through her work, she was able to see firsthand the importance of the tech industry. This role led her to her position at the Tech Academy.
“I wasn’t even looking,” said Corrigan, who came across the posting on LinkedIn. “I already knew the Tech Academy and what M&T Tech was doing through my work in workforce and economic development, and I couldn’t believe it. What a unique opportunity.”
“Every single person I have met since the process began has just reinforced for me why what we are doing is so important. We are committed to what we’re doing in community work.”
—Jessica Corrigan, ’12, Director, M&T Tech Academy
Corrigan has discovered a passion working as an advocate for those underrepresented in technology.
She noticed disparities in the field, explaining that neurodiverse individuals, people of color, and women often get overlooked when it comes to opportunities within tech. The Tech Academy aims to rectify that. It serves as a space for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in tech, regardless of their prior experience or existing knowledge of technology.
“I had this hypothesis, coming in, and it’s proven true many times over,” said Corrigan, “that no two tech journeys look exactly alike.”
Corrigan is dedicated to understanding the individuals she works with, connecting with them on a personal level to truly understand their unique journey, and using that understanding to help them grow and facilitate learning in a way that is powerful for the individual.
“Every single person I have met since the process began has just reinforced for me why what we are doing is so important,” said Corrigan, who proves her dedication to serving the community of Buffalo through her independent volunteer work with local organizations. She serves on the board of Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, where she chairs the Development Committee, and has also served on their Land Stewardship and Finance committees.
“We are committed to what we’re doing in community work,” she said.
Corrigan is proud to work for M&T, which she describes as “champions for the cause of creating a space for everybody.” She noted that it is more important to focus on your passion and your voice than your job title. She credits her mentor, Rob Cassetti, for instilling in her the wisdom to “do the work that only she can do,” which she does every day when she steps through the doors of the Tech Academy.
About the Tech Academy
Embedded inside the Tech Hub at Seneca One, the Tech Academy helps develop, attract, and retain the technology talent that Western New York needs to compete in the modern economy. As a community asset that emphasizes access for all, it develops and delivers educational programming that creates pathways to tech careers for the community and upskills and reskills the existing tech workforce. Launched by M&T Bank in late 2020, the Tech Academy collaborates with community partners and regional employers to build a more diverse, inclusive workforce and make the region an attractive destination for technologists.
About M&T Bank Corporation
M&T Bank Corporation is a financial holding company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. M&T's principal banking subsidiary, M&T Bank, provides banking products and services in 12 states across the eastern U.S. from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Trust-related services are provided in select markets in the U.S. and abroad by M&T's Wilmington Trust-affiliated companies and by M&T Bank.