Opinion: Black Business Expo (2020 Shift HBCU Tour)

This past weekend, 2020Shift kicked off their Black Business Expo HBCU Tour in Atlanta, Georgia. Students from the Atlanta University Center (AUC), such as Clark Atlanta, Spelman, and Morehouse, were able to attend the event for free.

 

2020Shift is a social enterprise educating and connecting recent graduates and current students with careers in technology and digital media. Founded by Ariel Lopez in 2014, her vision is to diversify the field of technology by targeting minority millennials to bridge the gap by providing them with non-engineering opportunities through access to jobs, resources and professional development.

 

As minorities, we are continuously left out of the loop on vital information and developmental skills needed to be successful in the world of technology. 2020Shift vision is to seek a long-term sustainable impact in diversifying the tech economy through building a community of talented young professionals from underserved communities in the space. Some of their partners include, but not limited to AlleyNYC, Pandora, Buffer, Yelp, LinkedIn, etc.

 

The event was held at Terminal West in the King Plow Arts Center, a few minutes from the AUC. The event provided ample time for guests to network with one another and shopped with the vendors who were there.

 

Corey Howard, the University Specialist Coordinator at Google, was the keynote speaker for the event. He provided students and entrepreneurs with vital information to help them be successful in their professional careers. Using the nutritional value of food as an analogy, Howard informed the audience on the importance of nurturing our professional careers. Why not take the same value of food nutrition to our professional careers?

 

“In order to be good at your job, you have to be willing to grow,” said Howard.

 

You have to nourish yourself. As entrepreneurs and business owners, Howard wanted them to focus on two questions he would often ask himself.

 

◊    What is nourishment?

◊    How am I nourishing my professional career?

 

Howard shared three tools he utilized that helped him become successful at his job: seek out a mentor, navigate ambiguity, and most importantly, be your biggest champion. Even with the world against, we must believe in ourselves.  

As far as rest of the event, I was highly disappointed in the panel discussions. I was expected to learn essential information to assist me with my blog so that I can make a living off of it. Wrong! The two panels that were supposed to be focused on Atlanta Tech and Building Your Business in ATL included some panelists who were not based out of ATL, which I found to be very alarming. They are informing the audience of how Atlanta is a un-tap market, and since the price of living is so low, it makes it perfect for entrepreneurs to start their business.

 

The real irony was when asked the main challenges black entrepreneurs face, most, if not all, the candidates agreed to lack information and resources in our community; however, only two of the six panelists provided vital information to assist entrepreneurs. Most of the information given seemed to be generic or water down information.

 

Overall, the event was quite a success. There was a great turnout from students and entrepreneurs in Atlanta networking and exchanging business cards. As far as effective, not so much but as I mentioned before, Atlanta was the first start. Hopefully, the Florida A & M and NCAT will generate better content from their panel discussions.

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