I graduate college in 6 months. Every graduation before this one has led to more school. Like most college seniors I feel both excited and terrified about graduating. And as I get closer to this next stage of my life, more folks have asked me: “so what’s next for you post-grad?”.
When I began my search for where I would work after college, I tried coming up with criteria of what’s important to me. The following is some of that criteria:
- A company that makes a product I like & that has users who like it too.
- An environment that encourages empathy and learning from each other.
- Work culture that doesn’t foster burning out.
- A team that allows for and encourages everyone to have time after work to spend with loved ones and to enjoy non-work related hobbies.
- An environment where diversity & inclusion is understood and is a priority.
- A company that does not tolerate or protect any employees who are racist, sexist, xenophobic, ableist, homophobic, or transphobic.
- A place where I don’t have to be “the only”.
- A supportive manager who will help me facilitate my growth towards a more senior role.
I was worried after making this list.* Is it even realistic? Black women make up less than 3% of the tech industry, so there’s a high chance I could be “the only”. Experiencing burnout is likely because of how many tech companies foster toxic environments with little work/life balance. Even though a lot of companies are talking about diversity & inclusion, I’m not convinced that most companies understand it well or actually care.
The reality is, there are few tech companies that are a safe place for women of color. Although there are companies trying to recruit marginalized people; few are changing their internal cultures to retain us.
The search wasn’t easy, but I did find a place I’m happy with.
I’ll be heading to Slack after graduation. I’m honored to join the iOS team. At Slack, I won’t be “the only”. There’s several other black folks at Slack that I know and admire & I’m excited to soon be at the same company as them: Diogenes Brito, Duretti Hirpa, Kristy Tillman, Kiné Camara, and more.
There’s no perfect tech company, but it’s obvious that Slack is trying. There’s always more work to be done. I have hope that Slack will continue to do the work that’s necessary to create a healthy work environment for all their employees, especially for those who are underrepresented in tech. I’m excited to join a company whose product I use and love. I can’t wait to see how I’ll grow there.
*I want to acknowledge the privilege I have graduating from an ivy league college with a computer science degree. I know many college graduates struggle finding employment after school. Many might not have the opportunity to be selective about where they go to work.