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Nov 16, 2023

2023 AfroTech Conference

By Ryan Crowell, Class of 2024

I graciously had the opportunity to attend the 2023 AfroTech Conference in Austin, Texas, the largest Black technology conference with over 20,0000 attendants from a variety of professional backgrounds. As a student soon to transition to the tech industry, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to learn from others eager to share their experiences and expand my network.

The conference consists of panels, social events, guest speaker sessions, an expo hall, and more that provide attendees the opportunity to create schedules catered to their needs. On my first morning, I decided to attend a session on product equity, and a second titled “The Power of Relationships: How Relationships Can Transform Your Business and Career.” This second hour-long session was transformative. The speakers provided frameworks on how to look for sponsors in an organization, how to get promotions, and spoke to the collective challenge that people who are minoritized face in organization, like not being recognized to the same degree as their white counterparts. Throughout the rest of my time, I was able to connect with a multitude of companies and attend more panels and sessions ranging from how to redefine your career to how to start a media company.

While the sessions and panels were informative, what enticed me most about the conference was the community aspect. You could not wait in line or cross the street without forming a new connection. I met software engineers in the airline industry, music producers, and other product marketers in line for panels or headshot. The conversations were never bland despite being from different backgrounds. In an environment with tens of thousands of high-achieving professionals looking to advance their careers, one might think the atmosphere would be competitive and intense; however, it was the opposite. Though I was alone in a brand-new city 1,300 miles away from Chapel Hill, I never felt by myself. I would highly recommend anyone attend an AfroTech Conference, as I left with a breadth of new knowledge, relationships, and an optimistic attitude towards my future—oh, and a free LinkedIn premium subscription.

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