Every year AfroTech brings the best and brightest talent together to network, elevate their skills, and look ahead to discuss the future of tech. This year’s conference proved that the future couldn’t look any sweeter. The TWIX® College Reception created an exclusive space for the students who will soon be the innovators, creators and industry disruptors of tomorrow. This private networking event gave 75 TWIX® Scholars the opportunity to take a break from their studies so they could tap in with other up-and-coming tech talent and embrace one of the most slept-on forms of resistance: Black joy.
TWIX® partnered up with Blavity.org to transform The Reverbery into a red and gold foil-wrapped speakeasy where attendees enjoyed mouth-watering sliders, playful caricatures, interactive photo booths, and all-you-can-eat TWIX® candy bars – and yes, we’re talking full-sized. It was the perfect backdrop for bright-eyed students eager to see what golden opportunities the tech space could offer them.
“We were looking for ways to find internships and post-grad opportunities and AfroTech was first on our list,” Dzifa Dumenyo, a senior at Vanderbilt University, said. “I’ve always been into tech and I’m looking for opportunities in product design or development or product management… I think it’s so fun and it’s always changing.”
The high energy in the room matched the undeniable feeling of optimism that was pouring from the young scholars.
While not everyone was sure of what their exact next step would be, it was hard to find anyone who didn’t feel empowered by the opportunity to choose their futures without compromising on their passions.
“Companies that are pouring back into the community are a big thing for me,” Jada Horton, a junior at Howard University, explained. “I really want to see that where I work.”
That theme remained prevalent throughout the entire event. In the same way TWIX® over delivers in both taste and satisfaction, these students saw their future tech careers as a way to create their own ultimate combination of career success and personal passions.
“My biggest goal in tech is to be happy,” Horton continued. “I want to enjoy what I’m doing in my work.”
Miphilove Milord, a Senior at Smith College, shared similar feelings. For her, the TWIX® College Reception gave her a new sense of empowerment and confidence to embrace the flexibility of the tech space.
“Being here has inspired me,” Milord shared. “I know that I have a lot of flexibility being in tech. Being in a space like this, where Black tech is such a big thing, I feel like I’m able to do what I want. Travel, meet new people, and so many other things.”
If anyone in the room could relate to her message about freedom and flexibility, it was Lakeysha Jackson. After a 10-year career in the medical space, Jackson decided to switch gears and create her ultimate combination of financial stability and location independence.
“I left my medical field job. I was over it,” Jackson explained. “I found my way into cybersecurity because technology offers me the freedom and the stability that I want.” Since then, Jackson says she’s found the joy that alluded her in her previous career. “I feel free emotionally. I feel excited to do more,” Jackson continued. “This is a space where I can grow. Tech offers so many different fields… even if another revelation comes, because I’m a Pisces, if I change my mind, I’ll be safe somewhere else with my skills.”
And when she’s ready to treat herself with a mental health break, tech supports her go-to form of self-care. “I travel,” Jackson shared. “I travel, eat good food, and enjoy good people. We’re going to passport it up in these streets with my laptop because I’m still going to do my schoolwork… I get freedom and stability in technology.”
Many scholars acknowledged the challenges that come with being underrepresented in tech, but their desire to build a supportive community was a clear reminder of why the TWIX® Scholar Reception was such a vital part of their AfroTech experience.
Milord explained that when she needs to reignite her joy in tech, she looks for supportive spaces like the one TWIX® had created.
“I look for people who look like me – especially my friends who are also in tech or STEM,” Milord added. “I go to them, and I know that I’ll always have a safe space with them. I know even though our experiences are not exactly the same, we do share this synonymous feeling of needing each other… it always feels communal and that’s something I really appreciate. It allows me to step into my joy and remember who I am.”
By sponsoring this event, TWIX® hopes to be a part of a growing support system for underrepresented students in tech who are building their own visions of joy-driven careers.
“We’ve been driven by a belief that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today,” AJ Wilson, Early Talent Diversity Manager at MARS, explained. “We activate that by intentionally providing opportunities for underrepresented students, particularly those from the Black and African American communities, to access resources, network with industry professionals, and explore career pathways in technology.”
This kind of crucial support from both friends and corporate allies has helped so many students forge a new path in technology. Whether they’re tearing into golden opportunities for the very first time or making career shifts to find the joy and freedom they’ve been craving, these TWIX® Scholars are unwrapping the wide range of possibilities that tech offers.
Perhaps the next time you’re celebrating our future tech trailblazers on a mission to create their ultimate combination of joy, freedom, and success, you can just smile and know they’re giving big TWIX® energy.