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Last week, I had the privilege of attending White House National HBCU Week. My colleague, Anthony Mays, and I were guests of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and we were able to spend time with NSBE CEO, Janeen Uzzell. It was an inspiring and fitting setting for our conversation because we launched our Brilliant Black Minds program just down the road at Howard University. Janeen reminded us that it takes progressive partners to achieve meaningful change in STEM equity and social justice. And that’s exactly what I’m so proud to announce today with our latest Brilliant Black Minds expansion: Partners of Brilliance!
It is my privilege to introduce Karat’s first Partners of Brilliance: Prime Video, Citi, Duolingo, Indeed, and Flatiron Health. These five companies are committing to supporting and hiring software engineers directly from the Brilliant Black Minds community. And their organizations are going to be stronger for it.
Our research on the Interview Access Gap shows that Black engineers lack access to practice interviews. This barrier makes it hard for Black engineers to enter the tech industry, despite the overall shortage of software engineers worldwide. With Brilliant Black Minds, we are using Karat’s Interviewing Cloud to give aspiring Black engineers access to free practice interviews, feedback, coaching, networking, and professional development.
Over the past year and a half, the program has grown tremendously. Earlier this year, Serena Williams -the GOAT, and Karat’s Champion of Brilliance- invested in Karat to expand Brilliant Black Minds beyond our HBCU roots. We started offering free practice interviews to any Black engineer in the U.S. Our participants are now able to take as many practice interviews as they need to feel prepared and confident.
We have a thriving community using our Discord server networking, mentoring, and cheering each other on. We launched study groups with tech industry experts that lead sessions solving some of the toughest technical questions that participants face in interviews. We are working hard to close the Interview Access Gap that keeps too many Black software engineers out of the world of tech.
When I think about the value the program creates, it reminds me of the feedback that one of our former community members shared after landing a full-time job as a software engineer at Microsoft.
“Looking back now, I’d never made it this far if I didn’t have people who believed in me and a program that made sure I had the access to practice, and networks that would help me succeed,” noted Darius Faison, Microsoft software engineer. “The Brilliant Black Minds program provided the blueprint to be hired at companies like Google and Microsoft, places that my five-year-old self couldn’t imagine. If you’re a Black engineer that doesn’t feel confident about succeeding in a technical interview, or if you feel like you’re not really sure what to expect, or if you just want to have access to Black engineers from across the industry, this is the place for you.”
And now, we’re doing even more to help our community take that next step with direct access to great jobs in tech!
Today’s news is the ultimate win-win scenario for the tech industry. Over the past two years, I’ve met with our participants every week. The overwhelming feedback I’d hear is that our candidates love the support they get from the Discord community and the practice interviews and live coaching feedback that helps them refine their skills.
But what they ultimately need to thrive is access to job opportunities. Almost all of our participants are actively seeking summer internships or full-time jobs. They need jobs to close the wealth gap our community faces. And the industry needs us to close the skills gap in tech and to create new products and services that resonate with their users.
A lot of our community members are “firsts”: first in their family to go to college, first to learn to code in their network, the first to work in tech, and the first to make six figures in their community. Being the first to do anything is daunting, but in an industry that is so reliant on professional networks and resumes it can become overwhelming. That’s part of the reason that the team at Flatiron Health joined the movement.
“It’s essential to give every candidate the opportunity to show off their strengths, because even the best resume doesn’t really tell you the potential of a person,” said Cat Miller, Chief Technology Officer of Flatiron Health. “As our long-time interviewing partner, we are excited to support Karat in their efforts to increase the number of Black software engineers within the tech industry. This new partnership allows Flatiron to be intentional in our actions and more equitable in providing access to opportunities for software engineers from historically marginalized groups. Joining Partners of Brilliance will help Flatiron attract employees that reflect the diversity of persons living with cancer in order to solve problems impacting the world.”
The companies that rely on Karat for technical interviews are creating the products and services that will define the world for generations to come. They know that the teams who are building the next generation of technology need to reflect the world that will use it. The builders of the code we all use everyday need to represent all of us.
Our Partners of Brilliance share this belief. They all recognize the importance of having product teams that reflect the full spectrum of their customers.
“At Citi, we create economic value that is both systemically responsible and protects the best interest of our clients,” said Colin Heilman, Chief Technology Officer of Citi’s Global Functions. “Joining the Brilliant Black Minds Movement helps us find the best talent to enable progress, represent the communities we serve, and develop technological solutions that are at the foundation of everything we do.”
“Duolingo’s products are used by people from every country in the world. We understand the value of ensuring our teams reflect the diversity of our customers,” said Natalie Glance, SVP of Engineering at Duolingo. “As a founding ‘Partner of Brilliance,’ we’re excited to help Black engineers find critical roles in our organization, and look forward to evolving the program together with Karat.”
Forest T. Harper, Jr., President and CEO at INROADS, has encouraged the aspiring engineers in his community to join the movement, stating, “by participating in Brilliant Black Minds our students will be part of a historical movement to double the number of Black engineers and help close the racial wealth gap in America. We are honored to play a part in this movement.”
With that, I’ll leave you with the words of our Champion of Brilliance herself, Serena Williams: “Let’s go!”
To sign up for free practice interviews and qualify for great jobs through our Partners of Brilliance, visit https://brilliantblackminds.karat.com.
To learn more about the program and how your company can get involved in Brilliant Black Minds, click here.