Computer Science and Advertising and Marketing students at DMU visited San Francisco’s Silicon Valley for a week in November 2017. Arranged by Mark Prescod, Associate Professor of Marketing (and member of the FTA team) and DMU alumnus Dion McKenzie, founder of Colorintech, which aims to make the tech industry more diverse and inclusive, the trip focussed on the lack of diversity in the multi-billion-pound tech industry.
Day one of the trip started with visiting multi-million-dollar web host company Weebly, where they met with Kelly Fitch, people and culture manager, who explained why inclusivity is so important to the success of the company. Throughout the day, the students met with more Weebly executives who provided insight into what it was like to work for a start-up and received bespoke career coaching to help them secure the ideal role.
A surprise announcement that the group would be visiting Google HQ at the end of the trip was a perfect finish to the tour of not-for-profit companies and meetings with entrepreneurs, alongside the trip to Weebly, that the students experienced in San Francisco.
Another diversity in tech trip to San Francisco took place in July 2018. Students had the opportunity to meet and get advice on entrepreneurship and working in technology from a range of different companies.
Visits on the trip included the Kapor Center, who aim to level the playing field in the tech industry. They discussed inclusivity within companies, dealing with microaggressions, and researching a company before pitching with a panel of experts from the center, before visiting business analytics company Mixpanel and speaking with the head of inclusion, diversity and equity, Ulysses Smith.
The group also had the chance to talk to key people at Headspace, a meditation and mindfulness company which helps millions of users in more than 190 countries with guided meditations, animations, articles and videos. Jessica Salinas, social impact lead at the company, spoke about what Headspace has to consider in order to create a product that’s accessible to everyone – for example people who don’t have access to Wi-Fi or mobile devices. The group also had the opportunity to hear from other Headspace professionals from diverse backgrounds on how they’re using their skills to get ahead in the tech industry, and how to achieve a career with a progressive company.
On the last day of the trip, students met with Jason Mayden, former global design director at Nike and co-founder and CEO of kids’ shoe company Super Heroic. He shared his story from a teenager who couldn’t afford the sneakers he dreamed of creating to the reasons he launched Super Heroic.
Karene Spaulding, a student, said: “Something he said – ‘why not me?’ – has really stuck with me, because when you do think about it, why not me? Even though I’m a young black female, why can’t I work in tech, why can’t I work in marketing, why can’t I work in an industry where it typically isn’t someone like me? He gave me insight into what it was like for him growing up, the culture, everything he’s been through, which sounded like some of the things that I’ve gone through and was really motivational.”