The tech mecca is around the corner!
The AFROTECH Conference — to be held Nov. 1-5, 2023, in Austin, TX — will be a breeding ground for opportunity, so you won’t want to miss out!
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Some individuals have found a job as a result of attending, such as Chaste Christopher Inegbedion who has held career titles such as product manager and product marketing manager.
Inegbedion attended the 2022 AFROTECH Conference because it mirrored his core belief in diversifying the tech industry.
“First and foremost, the AfroTech Conference’s mission aligns perfectly with my personal and professional aspirations,” Inegbedion told AFROTECH in an exclusive interview. “As an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, I was drawn to the conference’s commitment to tackling the diversity gap in Big Tech. The opportunity to be part of an event dedicated to fueling inclusivity and helping fast-growing businesses effectively hire Black professionals deeply motivated me.”
He added, “The conference’s focus on timely topics such as inclusive product design, navigating tech careers, and unlocking inclusive access to emerging technologies also piqued my interest. These are areas where I’ve been actively involved and passionate about, and I saw the AfroTech Conference as an ideal platform to further engage and make a difference.”
Inegbedion networked heavily before and during the conference. He prioritized watering his new connections with industry professionals, which played a role in his remaining relevant to potential employers. He ultimately landed a job as a product manager for Paycom and maintained the role for 120 days.
For those who are expecting to land new opportunities, Inegbedion’s story is certainly a reminder that new beginnings could be at the brink, especially if you maximize your time.
Do Your Research Before The Conference
Before making your way to Austin for the event, job seekers should ensure they did their research. Investigate sponsors who have piqued your interest and will be attending the conference, as well as prepare intentional questions for recruiters who may offer your desired role.
“A lot of the work comes before the conference itself,” Perez said. “So really doing the research. So, the first thing that I always recommend to folks is having a mindset that trying to find your next role is more of a marathon than a sprint.”
He added, “I often recommend that folks research the conference sponsors to identify who is going to be there. What kind of products are they offering, what information can you find about their cultures, what kind of roles do you see that are open? And then use that to create a shortlist of ideally two to four roles per company that you might be interested in and would like to apply for. From there, I do recommend that if you’re an attendee that you prepare a handful of questions for your recruiter to identify what might be the strongest match for you.”
Networking Is Key
Networking should be a constant throughout your career trajectory. You should certainly exercise this skill at the conference beyond simply engaging with recruiters at booths. You should ramp up your efforts by looking into other team members who will be in attendance. Consider meeting for a quick coffee chat.
This will also provide further incentive to get in touch with your peers before the conference so you can set up meetups ahead of time.
“A lot of times at events like AFROTECH, you’d have a company there with multiple team members,” Perez explained. “So try to get to know as many folks as you can who are there, and leverage them to ask questions about the culture on the teams. Ask questions about what does progression look like professionally in these positions? What do you like about working at a company this size?”
He continued, “Really getting to understand the company’s needs, the kind of problems that they’re solving but also what your career path could look like there.”
Strengthen Your Professional Network
Networking does not always have to feel so strategic either. Showing up to panels or other activations that are of interest provides alternative avenues to organically meet other like-minded individuals.
Those connections will strengthen your network, which can ultimately benefit your job hunt.
“My participation in specific sessions at the conference also played a pivotal role in building connections,” Inegbedion said. “For example, the session on ‘Creating a Roadmap for Your Product Management Career’ with Asia Mariah Stewart and the session on ‘Investments In Africa’ with Chidinma Iwueke, Chika Uwazie, and Ngozi Dozie provided unique platforms for networking and knowledge sharing.”
He added, “Post-conference, I continued to nurture these connections through follow-up emails and LinkedIn messages. This ongoing engagement helped keep me on the radar of potential employers and provided a platform to discuss potential opportunities. My connections and networks, both established prior to and developed during the AfroTech Conference, played a vital role in my interview process.”
The Work Continues After The Conference
It is more than likely that after leaving AFROTECH Conference, you will have a more positive outlook. Be sure to circle back to any connections made during the conference while including a note that emphasizes interest in present or future career opportunities if appropriate.
Send follow-up messages within the week of attending the AFROTECH Conference as it will be easier for recruiters or other professionals to put a face to your name.
“After the conference, don’t let those valuable connections fade away, Inegbedion said. “Send personalized follow-up emails or messages on LinkedIn to express your appreciation for meeting them and to express your continued interest in any opportunities they discussed.”