Professional Development at Historically Black Colleges & Universities

Partnering with HBCUs to bring professional development and coding bootcamps to black student around the nation

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Professional Development at Historically Black Colleges & Universities

Partnering with HBCUs to bring professional development and coding bootcamps to black student around the nation

Problem

Currently, Black tech employees still only make up small percentages of the workforce, which means that their perspective continues to be left out. So long as marginalized groups continue to be underrepresented in the industry, it means that the tech industry does not accurately reflect the world we live in today.

"The problem [...] is not one of education but of access and support. A number of Black tech professionals agree that the industry’s reliance on personal relationships to grant access and opportunity is partly to blame." - Sam Dean, Johana Bhuiyan

There is no one easy solution to remedy this issue, but including more Black engineers, designers, etc. into the tech world can definitely help. We must support Black graduate and undergraduate students who face systemic obstacles and do not always have access to typical educational resources. By providing resources, we can help ensure they will become the technical workforce tomorrow.

Solution

Students at coding workshop hosted by Bit Project

Bit Project started investing time and effort into professional development programs with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). We value the perspective that Black students bring into the tech world, and we want to ensure that they feel included in our community and are prepared for their career after graduation.

Our diversity and inclusion team dedicated themselves to reach out to Black students and faculty all over the world. By connecting with and listening to to this community, we learned how we as an organization could provide better support for future Black tech professionals.

While our work with HBCUs is still in progress, we have had great success so far. For example, our "Rock your LinkedIn Profile" event was sponsored by a LinkedIn member who gave tips on how to improve participant's profiles and increase searchability on the platform. They also went over how to reach out to potential employers and join public or private career groups. Another event created by Bit Project member, Salonia Burt, focused on personal branding. This workshop provided students with strategies on how to present themselves, both informally and formally. This gave students an understanding a crucial skill for navigating the professional world as a young adult.

All of these professional development events are hosted for free online through Zoom, no fees required. By creating these materials for HBCUs, Bit Project is eliminating financial obstacles and helping prepare Black students who want to explore and/or the tech industry, but who might not have had these resources otherwise.

Results & Future Plans

Our overall goal is that these students are able to enter the tech industry — feeling more included and seen — and that the tech industry is improved for the better. As more HBCUs join the Bit community, we look forward to the opportunity to help more and more Black students by ensuring they receive equitable quality resources.