What a great time to start writing on Medium!
It only took me a couple “what the hell should I write about first?”s to finally decide what the hell to write about first — I’m actually pretty proud.
So, here it is:
Straight off the heels of the 2nd annual Afrotech conference, I feel more motivated and confident in what I bring to the design/tech industry’s table than I’ve felt in a long time — maybe ever. I’m also super proud of my people and happy to be apart of this culture might I add. I thought it made the most sense to share what I took from this years Afrotech conference, where 2000+ black and brown tech professionals came together under one roof for two days to do nothing but guide, motivate and celebrate each other. I definitely plan to attend in 2018, so I also thought it would be fun to look back a year from now and see how incredibly “geeked” (no pun) I was.
Here’s my summary of the weekend and what I got the most out of this years’ Afrotech conference:
Afrotech is proof that community, culture and just basic human interaction is irreplaceable and powerful. The irony tickles me actually as a lot of society tends to believe that as technology advances, that human interaction and human need decline. While there may be some good cases for the argument, (like people who walk into street signs while texting — yea, we saw that!) I’d have to say that I believe quite the contrary.
I received endless advice, info/inspo, and even a couple cool new friends that I would never have obtained if it wasn’t for technology & this 2 day conference. If I can tell any design/tech professional who’s feeling less than motivated something it would be to go out and seek community. Whether it be conferences, local meet-ups, what-have-you, there’s truly nothing like interacting with those that share similar paths as you. Depending on where you’re located or how you came up in your field, it can be pretty easy to forget to do this. However, take it from a hermit who’s been overdue to come up out the shell. It may not feel like your next big professional break lies at a short Starbucks meeting or a event that you’re not really in the mood to attend, but dammit, it just might!
Knowing HOW to talk about what you’re talking about is important. However, as it relates to our professions and impressing potential employers I believe that it’s vital. Being exposed to different markets and professionals who’s work is similar to yours can really open your eyes to where you are in your career, where you’re headed, and how to articulate it all. Different companies/industries have various names/lingo for job titles, responsibilities etc. and if you aren’t able to speak the same language you won’t be as affective. Coming from the DC market where there’s fewer new companies that are doing things the modern way than on the west coast, I realized quickly in my time spent in the bay that I had been defining myself based on what was around me and not by what was actually out there and what these powerful and super successful companies are looking for. I noticed this prior to the conference even starting, actually. Once I was able to see thru the semantics and terms via conversations with a couple local tech professionals I was able to better mentally define myself and my abilities and be more confident while talking to recruiters.
I’d be playing myself to think that I didn’t need to stay active in my understanding of the industry, though. As time goes on things will continue to change so as you grow in your career I think you serve yourself the best by staying sharp on terms, lingo and trends. Don’t get caught up, but stay hip — which leads me to my next bolded headline.
Meat and bone
One of my favorite things to say (which I just realized as I was about to type it) is “take the meat and throw out the bone”.
If there’s any flip side to having access to thousands of professionals in the tech industry who have “been there done that” and can help steer you in the right direction on various levels, it would have to be that with that access, you’ll inevitably get a lot of different stories and opinions that can/will get you excited. Maybe even unconsciously have you viewing your career in a inaccurate light — OR questioning your goals and original plans.
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By no means am I saying not to get motivated, dream bigger, make adjustments, seek new ideas and opinions- shoot, I spent 3 paragraphs prior to this in praise mode — however, I wanna try to stay on the ground and give a good balanced perspective as well, but let me continue...
I believe the true key is knowing what you want or at least having an idea. Just making the most out of each moment no matter where you are in your walk. Once you have that down, you’ll be able to anchor your thoughts and apply the correct information to your personal experience. I don’t just say this to say this, I too had to walk back some of my thoughts after digesting all of the information and motivation that I had received. Thankfully I have an idea of how I want to progress in my career and what goals I want to accomplish so I was still able to keep the inspiration and advice, but in scope of the plays I want to make moving forward.
There’s tons more I could share; these are all just raw thoughts so I’ll probably have to amend a statement or two as time goes on and things happen (or don’t). Im super excited, though, to see the fruits of this conference and to watch it grow. Also, I’m not a writer or anything, (which I plan to get better at) so thank you to whom ever took the time to even read this far down the page. You must be in my family or something so what up.
Till 2018 techies!