Inside Karat


Black Brilliance shined throughout AfroTech 2022 in Austin, Texas

The Karat Team image

The Karat Team

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The Karat team traveled to Austin, Texas last week to attend the first AfroTech conference since the pandemic, following two years of virtual events. The conference, hosted by Blavity, Inc, is one of the largest Black professional tech conferences. Over 15,000 Black professionals gathered for five days, to learn, network and discover their next tech opportunity.

This year’s AfroTech Conference featured more than 100 speakers, who covered a variety of topics, such as: Securing the Bag: Navigating Tech from Cradle to Career; Climbing to the Top of the Tech Ladder for Engineers and Managers; Inclusive Product Design: What It Is and Why It Matters, and more. The speakers came from various industries, with standouts including: Mark Cuban, Ruben Harris, Ryan Wilson, Zaytoven, and Arlan Hamilton!

Karateers had the opportunity to network with peers, reconnect with old friends, and learn from top talent within the industry. Below, we gathered some highlights from our time at AfroTech 2022.

Anthony Mays, Crystal Moore, Portia Kibble Smith, Dagmawit Kemal and Marcus Taylor at AfroTech in Austin, Texas. 

“No one can do it alone”  

“Find your people that you want to sit with, win with, and be great with, then come up with a plan of how you are going to get there,” said Sydnee Sampson– Blackwell, Software Engineer at Accenture and Brilliant Black Minds participant during the “Upskilling America” session.

Sydnee Sampson is an entrepreneur who has been independent since she was sixteen, and is currently building generational wealth through apparel design and open-source. Sampson is also part of Career Karma, founded by Ruben Harris.

They emphasize the importance of finding people that you can grow with. Sydnee’s Young N Ambitious squad all went to Flatiron bootcamp, all at different times and with different cohorts.

Finding a community is key, and maintaining a connection with that group is just as important to level up once you do land the job.

Director of People Operations at Blavity, Taryn Powdrell moderates a conversation with the CEO of Career Karma Ruben Harris and Software Engineer at Accenture Sydnee Sampson-Blackwell

There’s a lot of talent in the industry

The Expo Hall, where hundreds of companies were showcasing their opportunities and businesses to potential candidates, was one of the main attractions of Afrotech. With the current recession, many job seekers may feel discouraged to keep searching for roles, however, it was evident that there were plenty of opportunities. In addition to substantial opportunities, there were also plenty of qualified candidates.

According to the data in our recent blog, “It’s a good time to be hiring software engineers,” many qualified engineers are looking for work, whether they’ve been laid off or not, and AfroTech proved just that.

Companies and organizations engaged in entertaining activations while demonstrating their devotion and commitment to hiring diverse talent.. Some of our team members had the opportunity to attend Zillow’s Techsgiving Dinner and Happy Hour, hosted by  Roz Francuz-Harris, Head of Recruiting at Zillow, and a Friend of Portia’s.

Portia Kibble Smith with Head of Recruiting at Zillow Roz Francuz-Harris at the Techsgiving
Dagmawit Kemal and Portia Kibble Smith at the Zillow Techsgiving event

RenderATL also hosted a dinner and happy hour where Black talent from across the country gathered to celebrate the amazing hard work they’ve put into the year.

Attendees gather at RenderHaus event hosted by RenderATL

Face to face interaction is valuable

For many, this was one of the first times reconnecting with co-workers and mentors in real life. It was also a momentous time for Karat, since we announced Crystal Moore as our Vice President of Brilliant Black Minds, at the event.

In an increasingly remote work environment, Afrotech provided a space for those invaluable face to face interactions. Our team had the opportunity to meet candidates in the Brilliant Black Minds program.

Portia Kibble Smith poses with a group of Brilliant Black Minds candidates at AfroTech in Austin, Texas.

Morgan Latimir Consulting Founder and Senior Advisor for Brilliant Black Minds Anthony Mays also provided onsite resume reviews as well as mentoring sessions.

Anthony Mays providing resume review to candidate

Although our schedules were jam packed with morning sessions and happy hours in the evenings, it was the spontaneous moments to meet new people, and reconnect with old friends that made the experience so exceptional.

That’s a wrap for AfroTech 2022! We look forward to coming back to Austin next year for AfroTech 2023!

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