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Out and About with The Black Alumni Networking Expo

This weekend thousands of black college graduates convened on the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, DC for the Black Alumni Networking Expo.  A day full of networking, workshops, and an expo full of vendors all aimed at encouraging professional development, diversity in working world and helping black graduates thrive! The highlight of the expo for me was the Career in Tech Panel...I mean obviously right? The Career in Tech panel, presented by Geico, featured William Morris, Founder of EdConnective (an organization that provides instructional feedback for teachers); Sixto Cancel, CEO and Founder of Think of Us, a non -profit that uses technology to help improve the lives of kids that are aging out the foster care system; Katherine Mereand, Program Manager of Tech and Innovation in the Department of Small and Local Business Development in DC; and JT Logan, Owner and Creative Director at Four Deep Multimedia, LLC, a Marketing and Advertising firm. As well as a representative from Geico. The panel fielded questions for recent and upcomping graduates on how they can work their way into the IT industry as well as offered perspectives on some of the current moves being made in IT today.  The topic of diversity came up and well, for me this was a key topic.  Especially with the recent incident with the Google Engineer.  There was on open dialogue about how Black people aren't really dominant in the field , and it's not because we can't do the work.  

"Don't be afraid to go to those places that are not so diverse. There's a certain level of comfort among our peers, and to step into other networks where it's 97 percent white male conferences, don't be afraid to step into those spaces and hold your own, there are opportunities in those spaces " That hit home for me...because I am black and I'm a female in IT and sooo often I go to conferences and things and I stand out, but some of my best opportunities have come from these spaces and not being afraid to speak up for myself.  The panelists also touched on getting a mentor, and reaching out to those who are now in the technology field for advice and guidance. Also a note, don't reach out just once, follow up! I left feeling motivated and I've been in the field 10+ years!  I suggest if you have never attended the Black Alumni Networking Expo that you do so, oh and I forgot the most important thing..this event was free! So don't deny yourself the opportunity to enrich yourself especially if you're a recent or upcoming graduate. I wish this event had been around when I graduated!  Did you attend? What panels and workshops did you find valuable? ~ChicDivaGeek

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