In the seven years since it launched in 2016, AfroTech has grown into the most prominent tech convention for Black professionals in the United States. The tech conference was held in Austin, Texas, for the second year in a row and offered attendees many opportunities to learn, engage, and further their careers. One of the conference’s main goals is to connect Black tech professionals and students to job opportunities at the country’s leading tech companies. After registering for the conference, attendees could create professional profiles and upload their resumé to Talent Infusion powered by AfroTech to match with potential employers. Leading tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle attended the conference, doing onsite hiring for current professionals and graduating college students. Fulfilling its commitment to increasing Black representation in the tech industry, AfroTech also offered scholarship opportunities to students.
With so many impactful panels, discussions, expos, and events covering a multitude of topics from fintech, music, health media, and more, AfroTech attendees were constantly on the move, trying to engage in as many experiences as possible. Here are some tips for attendees looking to participate in next year’s conference in Houston.
- Know your objective for attending. If you’re seeking employment or career opportunities, print plenty of resumes or have a digital QR leading to your portfolio. Attend the career fair daily and take advantage of the Talent Infusion powered by AfroTech. Are you looking to network? Find and register for sponsored mixers and socials that align with your field or goals.
- Plan your experience. The AfroTech schedule is posted before the start of the conference. Plan your days to provide structure and purpose. Winging it is always fun, but this conference is about maximizing opportunities,experiences and time.
- Schedule your transportation. Rideshare apps like Uber allow scheduling rides up to a month in advance. Schedule your rides when you plan to arrive and leave the conference to save money and time.
With those tips in mind, it was impossible to experience it all. Here are some notable experiences you might have missed at AFROTECH 2023 from some speakers, companies and organizations that you can look forward to seeing next year.
The TEA on DEI: A conversation on Tech, Equity, and Advocacy
Jarvis Sam is the chief executive officer and founder of The Rainbow Disruption, and Joshua Pinkay is the branded editorial production manager at Blavity, Inc., led a discussion on the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion in tech and strategies that can foster systemic change across an organization. Jarvis spoke on how tech companies can enhance their DEI initiatives using a method he created and can be explored in his book DEI C.R.E.D.E.N.T.I.A.L. Technology executives play a critical role in designing, developing, and delivering technology to address DEI discrepancies in their respective companies. The discussion between Jarvis and Joshua unpacks key issues tech companies face when laying the framework for their DEI initiatives.
MICROSOFT Presents Poetry Me, Please
AfroTech attendees had private access to a new AI experience called FlowScholar. The collaboration with Microsoft, The Hip Hop Museum, and Poetry Me, Please brought attendees together to engage and indulge in spoken word and Open Mic performances. The showcase celebrated Hip Hop’s fiftieth anniversary and allowed creatives to connect through spoken word. “At Poetry Me, Please, we are committed to supporting creatives and providing them with the resources they need to build their portfolios. This partnership with Microsoft and The Hip Hop Museum gives artists a tool to explore the endless possibilities that come from using technology to power creativity. As creatives in 2023, it behooves us to understand the importance of leveraging tech, especially through poetry,” said founder Rashan Brown.
FlowSholar is a one-of-a-kind AI experience created by Microsoft and The Hip Hop Museum. The AI tool powered by Azure OpenAI Sevice guides users through creating a rap song with brainstorming prompts that make a personalized flow. FlowScholar aims to show creatives how AI can help them overcome the challenging aspects of the writing process.
Ryan Gasper, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft, said this about the partnership. “At Microsoft, we are looking forward to leveraging the power of AI in partnership with The Hip Hop Museum, who are dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. With experiences like FlowScholar and community organizations like Poetry Me, Please, we can continue to scale these tools and innovate together.”
Google X Wtr Your Plants
After a long day of panels, expos, and career opportunities, Google, in collaboration with Wtr Your Plants, hosted the “Unofficial Kick Back,” an invite-only mixer that brought together tech industry leaders and professionals for food, creativity, collaboration, and vibes. Hosted at the Marlow Bar in downtown Austin, this event opened the door for an authentic connection between invitees and the Google team. While Artist Chris Rogers worked on a painting, Remix Intl. provided music that set the tone for a fantastic evening.
The Google team mingled with invitees throughout the night, potentially forging future partnerships and lifelong relationships. Google’s presence throughout the AfroTech conference was undeniable, with panels, onsite hiring, and product experiences. Still, this event provided an outlet to eat, unwind, and enjoy the company of attendees interested in how the company could enrich the Black tech industry.
The expo hall was a truly unique experience. It allowed attendees to meet with leaders, discover the latest products from tech companies, attend interactive workshops, and stay updated on emerging trends and interact with conference sponsors. A notable feature of the Expo Hall was the Gaming Lounge presented by Warner Bros.
Black Tech Soiree with Howard University
Historically, fall marks the start of the HBCU Homecoming season. Students and Alumni alike prepare themselves to embrace school spirit, comradeship and engage in a thriving campus experience. Howard University, H.E.B, and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship partnered for a sold out Black Tech Soiree. The swanky event brought together HBCU alums and attendees to expand their network, forge valuable connections, and exchange ideas with industry leaders. They Engaged in stimulating conversations, discovered new opportunities, and gained insights into the latest tech world trends.
Howard was the only HBCU with a significant presence at the renowned tech conference. The University hosted several events and activations, including a fifty-year Hip Hop exhibition, How HBCUs are Preparing Tech Entrepreneurs in AI and Beyond, and an HBCU Brunch. Howard is committed to Excellence in Truth and Service, including its unwavering dedication to entrepreneurship for students, alums, and Black entrepreneurs. This commitment was on full display through its involvement at Afrotech.
This years conference was packed with high energy performances from artists like JadaBoo, Rick Ross,Zaytoven and Saweetie. Here is what JadaBoo had to say about her experience “My first AfroTech on the MainStage was everything and more. Our people coming together, healing, and connecting through music is a powerful testament to the unifying force of our shared culture. In those beats and rhythms, we find not just a celebration of our diversity but a collective heartbeat that resonates with the strength of our community. AfroTech isn’t just an event; it’s a transformative experience where the power of music becomes a catalyst for unity, inspiration, and the realization of our boundless potential as a people.”
Want to attend AfroTech next year in Houston? Registration is open now for early bird tickets.