These days, pursuing a career in tech is not just aspirational — it’s a way of life. But for Black professionals in tech, approaching those aspirations looks a little different. 

With rampant underrepresentation at every level, it can be difficult for Black professionals to find access points into the tech industry, much less a means to build a long-term career. And let’s be honest, the numbers behind those disparities bear out. Traditionally, the tech world hasn’t been encouraging to people of color looking to break those barriers. 

However, more tech companies are holding themselves accountable by creating fresh initiatives to create a path forward for Black and brown professionals, especially those looking to make long-term career moves. 

Facebook is one of the companies making that happen, and there’s never been a better time to launch a career there. Though it can seem intimidating for tech hopefuls looking to join the ranks, it isn’t impossible. And recently, the social media giant has been pursuing ways to create pathways for tech professionals of color to become a part of the family. 

To that end, two of Facebook’s own caught up with AfroTech to talk about what led them to Facebook and how being Black in tech has influenced their career journey. 

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length. 

Grace Egbo – Software Engineer

AT: Tell us about what led you toward pursuing a career in tech. 

EGBO: When I was in 4th grade, I completed a schoolwide standardized test early. After being directed to select a book to read while I waited, I came across a book titled How to Make My Own Webpage. It caught my eye because of the cute mouse on the front, but it ended up being pretty intriguing! I took the book home, and that same evening I followed the instructions and created my first webpage! Even though I didn’t know then, that’s where the spark of my tech adventure first began. 

Later, as a first-year student in college, I was looking to get some real-world coding experience, and the Facebook University for Engineers popped up in my search. I appreciated that Facebook created an internship program designed specifically for people underrepresented in tech. As a Black woman, I didn’t think twice about applying. 

AT: Give us an inside look at your experience at Facebook? 

EGBO: Currently, I work as a software engineer. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t stare at a computer all day writing code by myself! On a typical day, I code, but I also do other things like meet with my team to focus on ways to help us excel. 

One of the many things I love about my role is that I have the opportunity to inspire a generation of software engineers that look like me. I distinctly remember, during my first internship at Facebook, being shocked that there were so few Black female engineers at the company. I then realized from personal experience and research that this was a problem across the entire tech industry. So I got to work and focused on doing my part to change the narrative. One quote that drives my passion is “If they can see it, they can be it.” Thankfully the Black tech community at Facebook is growing, and although it’s not the pace I’d like it to be, it’s progress over perfection. 

AT: What are some ways Facebook is celebrating and recognizing its Black employees?

EGBO: For Black History Month, it was announced that a set of Black employees were slated to receive the inaugural Black@ Community Impact Award. All the individuals nominated were involved in initiatives that served to elevate and bring understanding to the Black experience within and outside of Facebook. Seeing these people getting publicly recognized, I could only say, “You love to see it!”

AT: What advice would you give other Black professionals looking to apply for an open opportunity at Facebook?

EGBO: I would say, “Go for it!” One thing I noticed when speaking to people is it can be easy to discredit yourself because of past experiences or because you think your chances are slim. But I always say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” We learn, we grow, we move on. One can’t let experiences discourage them because we are all capable, talented and unique individuals.

Ishvaraus Davis – Solutions Engineer  

AT: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in tech? 

DAVIS: My journey into tech was fairly circuitous. When I was a teenager, I had a mentor that spent his career working for IBM as a software engineer. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but he seemed very successful, so it always intrigued me. When I began college, I was interested in economics and business, so those were the classes I took initially. The second semester, I signed up for a beginner’s programming class as an elective and ended up loving it. It was extremely challenging in the beginning, but the core of it was problem-solving. I knew I could focus my energy there and be happy with it, so I decided to become a software engineer. 

AT: What led you to apply for your role at Facebook?

DAVIS: As far as getting a role at Facebook, the stars aligned. After having interviewed with a few startups, a Facebook recruiter reached out to me. He described the available role as a mixture of “coding with product management and consulting,” which sounded like exactly the intersection I was looking for. I decided to choose that path rather than taking the machine learning position I was previously offered.

AT: What’s your role right now, and what’s a typical day in your work life?

DAVIS: My current role is as a solutions engineer. We’re an organization of engineers that sit under marketing to create innovative products and accelerate the adoption of our ads suite. More specifically, I work with large clients in the technology sector, such as Adobe, Lenovo and Samsung. A typical day can have huge variability, from writing code for some of our core ads infrastructure to program alignment with leadership across product to pitching a new opportunity to clients. The day is guided by the work that will be most impactful at the time for both clients and our business.

AT: How does your work directly or indirectly support the Black community in or out of Facebook?

DAVIS: In my role, I work with large tech companies, so we’ve had conversations about equitable marketing and showing up for communities of color. I also consider my existence in this position to be an act of supporting our community, since it has enabled me to build out pathways for others to follow. My next step on this journey is scaling the impact and getting more allies involved with contributing. There’s still a lot of work to be done here, especially with respect to representation.

AT: What advice would you give other Black professionals looking to apply for an open opportunity at Facebook?

DAVIS: Getting a job at Facebook isn’t impossible! I get that sentiment quite frequently when talking to prospective students and other candidates. Getting an interview and excelling on it is tough, but there are a few strategies to increase the likelihood of success. To get to the interview, I always recommend ensuring that your resume is fully up to date with a focus on impact and how you achieved that impact. Including some of the most difficult or complex problems you solved is also beneficial. The more you focus on preparation for the right topics, the more likely you are to have success.

For Black and brown tech professionals, now is the time to break into the industry. Facebook aims to connect professionals in tech with positions they will truly enjoy and to bring them on board to bring the world closer together.

Check out open roles here!