African Americans make up only three percent in many big tech companies from Silicon Valley, and even less in leadership positions. Even though the numbers are improving in comparison from 10 years ago, the black community is still underrepresented in the tech industry.
One of the reasons for the absence of black tech professionals is the lack of access to opportunities. There are fewer benefits provided in black communities. Many African Americans get to adulthood without real contact with how technology works, so a career path in the tech industry is rarely considered.
Then, when black students graduate from an educational institution, some find it hard to acquire a career in the field. Some tech companies aren’t doing a good job in providing diversity in teams. The industry is mainly composed of white male professionals – it is missing the benefits having a diverse workforce provide. After all, app users and customers come from different races and backgrounds.
These are some steps the black community can follow to start their careers in tech.
Coding bootcamps are a quick and affordable way to learn programming or software developer skills. These courses can be in person or online, people not only learn about coding, they also learn skills that will help them in the professional world.
There are coding bootcamps in cities like Houston, San Francisco, and New York, where potential students can find the right program. You can also research about the experiences of others in the African American community to find out if a coding bootcamp is the right option for you.
Find the Right Company
Finding work is already a difficult task for Americans, but more so for African Americans. One step every person looking for a job has to take is to research the companies in their sector and identify the ones to apply to. A smart move is to target companies you know have diverse workforces and support the black community. Research companies who have black founders or CEO, or at least a black representation in the leadership roles.
An important thing to do is to make sure you seize opportunities. Many programs support US minorities. If you are Latino, a woman, or African American specializing in tech, there are organizations dedicated to opening opportunities for you. For example, there is a company called the Black Founders that created an ecosystem for black tech entrepreneurs to interact and share ideas. Another one is Code2024, which is a nonprofit that helps black tech professionals get jobs and internships with the biggest tech firms in the country. Make sure you do your research and make relationships with those that have the same struggles that you do.
Networking is key in building any career, but when you are part of a minority, this is even more important. Having connections in the industry can be difficult, but go to meetups, events, and conferences where you may find other professionals with the same interest. Make yourself seen by talking to people and getting to know them. Don’t forget to mention you are looking for a job, some of them could be your future coworkers.