In celebration of Black History Month, we’re highlighting resources, events, and connections for Black Engineers! Read on to find out about annual Black conferences and conventions, how to connect with the black community, various job boards, and more. We hope you’ll find these resources valuable in your career exploration and join us in observing Black History Month.
Black Student Organizations
You’ve probably heard of UVA’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Did you know that beyond UVA, NSBE is a nonprofit organization that is owned and managed by its members, with more than 30,000 members around the world? NSBE is dedicated to the academic and professional success of both engineering students and professionals. Its mission – “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community."
NSBE offers its members leadership training, professional development activities, mentoring opportunities, career development services and more. NSBE comprises 394 active chapters — 242 collegiate, 70 professional and 82 pre-collegiate — located in six geographic regions. NSBE is governed by an executive board of college students and engineering professionals.
Whether or not you join NSBE as a student, you can become (or stay) involved with NSBE throughout your career — it’s a lifelong resource. Join NSBE as a Professional Member post-graduation. Plus, your first year as a Professional Member is free!
Career Events for Black Students
Each year, there are major events that specifically cater to Black students and professionals in STEM disciplines. Many of these events include career fairs, featuring job and internship opportunities from the largest, most recognizable tech firms in the world.
In 2020, these events all went virtual in some form or fashion, dramatically reducing the cost of attendance. A few to keep an eye out for are NSBE’s National Convention* (generally in March, but happened in August during 2020; the 2021 virtual convention is April 5-9), the BEYA Conference** (always in February), Chroma (a virtual conference by Black and Brown Founders), and AfroTech (the world’s largest tech conference for Black students and professionals).
It is also worth noting that there are often various scholarships for these conferences. Speak with us in the Center for Engineering Career Development to learn more about these opportunities.
*Cynthia Okoye, current VP of NSBE at UVA says that “The NSBE Convention includes informational workshops, a career fair, hospitality suites, and more. The career fair at the convention is a great way for students to land full-time and internship positions and network with recruiters from great companies. The convention has great opportunities for students and professionals to network with each other and learn about different career paths and disciplines within STEM.”
**Cynthia also shared that “The BEYA Conference is another conference in which students, working professionals, and companies can network and learn about STEM. Also, people in STEM who did exemplary work will be recognized and given rewards for their accomplishments in the industry. The career fair at BEYA is usually free with great companies coming to recruit students.”
Connect with the Black Community Virtually
Follow, use, and look up #BlackTechTwitter on Twitter and #BlackTechPipeline on LinkedIn to enter the network and stay up-to-date on current events in the space.
Also subscribe to the newsletters below to receive updates from the Black Community about companies hiring Black talent, industry news, and read about Black success stories.
“The Black Tech Pipeline newsletter focuses on the existing Black community in tech, [and brings] exposure, resources, and opportunity to Black technologists and allies.” Subscribe to hear about personal journey’s and experiences entering tech, interviews from influencers in the field, improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry, and more!
“Examining the changes of technology + business sparked by Black entrepreneurs, scholars, ingenuity, and people.” Receive updates about the Black innovation economy and gain insights from stories about shaping policy, entrepreneurship and tech.
And, engage with Black alumni and your peers through the Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) platform, a virtual community that brings UVA students and alumni together. Join VAM, head to the Groups tab, and request access to the Black Engineers and Computer Science Majors group. Within the group, you can ask questions, participate in discussions, and connect with others individually.
Spotlight on Black Engineers
Last summer we invited several Black alumni and trustees to share their experiences as a UVA student and in life post-graduation.
- Hustle: How to Be Creative, Make Connections, and Create Opportunities
- UVA Black Engineering Alumni Panel
You might also like to read the February 2021 newsletters from the USA Science & Engineering Festival, which have highlighted Black scientists and engineers all month long.
More Opportunities & Resources for Black Students
There are a number of excellent resources available for Black engineering students. We’ve curated a few of our favorite ones that we feel can provide quality advice and community support in your career exploration and job search. Below are a few favorites, but here’s a Google spreadsheet that includes many more resources including a tab for job boards, internship opportunities, and conferences.
Black News: 30 Best Internships for Minority and Black Students: Internships with companies that value diversity.
BIT: Blacks in Technology: Founded in 2008 and established in 2012, Blacks In Technology LLC is the largest community and media organization that focuses on Black people in the technology industry. Through community-focused activities, events and media, Blacks In Technology (BIT) is “Stomping the Divide” by establishing a blueprint of world-class technical excellence and innovation by providing resources, guidance and issuing a challenge to our members to surpass the high mark and establish new standards of global innovation.
- BIT Job Board: Opportunities beyond Handshake
- BIT Stories: Get inspired by these amazing accomplishments
OBD: Organization of Black Designers: OBD is a national professional organization of interior, industrial, architectural, fashion and graphic designers dedicated to promoting the visibility, empowerment, education and interaction of its membership and the understanding and value that diverse design perspectives contribute to world culture and commerce.
- OBD Job Board: Upload your resume and search job listings
- OBD Blog: Keep abreast of what is happening in the design world
BIG: Blacks in Government:An advocate of equal opportunity and professional development for Black government employees at the Local, State and Federal government levels and others dedicated to justice for all. BIG is member focused, world class enterprise, recognized for excellence. BIG serves to enable all present and future Black employees in Local, State, and Federal governments to have the ability to maximize their career opportunities and provide a mechanism for inclusion, growth and advocacy.
- BIG Newsletter: Sign up for the BIG
- BIG Sponsors: Check out this list of companies committed to diversity and inclusion
- Job Board: Huge list of job opportunities
- Career Events: Find career fairs and other networking opportunities
Lunchtable: The #1 place for Black people to learn from industry innovators, join daily discussions, and get hired at top companies. Lunchtable is for culture curators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, professionals, creators and everyone in between.
- Daily discussions about a range of topics that will help you learn about career paths you might not have considered.