Learning the Business Side of the Tech Industry

By Darrius Summers

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On Oct. 1, I received notice of an amazing opportunity to attend the 1st annual Black Enterprise AT&T TechConneXt Summit. Being selected was an honor in itself because the process was very selective and only offered to a few students at Hampton University.

I arrived in Santa Clara, California, 10 days later and received a warm welcome from individuals from AT&T who sponsored the trip for me and 4 of my classmates.

Throughout the experience, I had the chance to network and bond with fellow attendee’s from other HBCUs and executives from AT&T. A really unique opportunity I enjoyed was when we shared breakfast with the CEO of Black Enterprise (Earl ‘Butch’ Graves, Jr.), who shared several insights on the state of the tech industry and personal development. Following breakfast, we toured the AT&T Foundry, where innovation and creativity thrives to develop new technologies to make our society better in many ways. The next stop was at the Google campus, where we learned about strategies for problem solving from some of their best and brightest.

During the conference, I found several of the sessions truly intriguing and engaging. The speakers challenged me to think at a higher level but also to take my existing knowledge and apply it to the real world. The emphasis placed on personal branding and development served as excellent advice for people like myself who have a limited tech background but aspire to work in business.

The most unique thing about my experience was the chance to rub shoulders with so many heavy hitters from several different industries. I met people like tech trailblazers Roy Clay and Kenneth Coleman, civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, NBA legend and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson, and accomplished DJ and music engineer Young Guru … just to name a few.

Attending this summit was a major step in my academic development as well. I really got a chance to expand my knowledge base on topics such as startups, investments, branding, and marketing, all things that I’m studying at Hampton and hope to shape my future career around.

The final thing that really resonated with me was how although many of the attendees were black. You could really see the diversity of attendees, which consisted of executives, educators, engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. It was an honor to have been selected to attend this summit and I would recommend it to any individual interested in learning more about the business side of the tech industry. For a college student, the opportunities stemming from this conference were endless and the knowledge was unmatched. I would like to extend a special thanks to Black Enterprise and AT&T for this amazing opportunity. To all aspiring business professionals, if you are looking to be great in your field, the journey starts here.

Darrius Summers is a sophomore, business administration major at Hampton University. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking here.