Innov8tiv Exclusive Interview With Co-Founders of Brooklyn On Tech
The technology industry has proven to be a very lucrative industry, with some tech companies recording some of the biggest revenues in recorded industry. So naturally, as expected many people are on a ‘gold-rush’ to invest and earn from this profitable industry, either as developers, programmers and venture capitalist among others.
Brooklyn, one of the five boroughs of New York City, has seen an increase in the amount of investments in infrastructure leading up to the establishment of more tech companies. Despite that, it emerged that the majority of the community members living in Brooklyn did not have an interest and the necessary skills in technology. Therefore, they did not benefit much from the establishment of tech companies in their neighborhood. The locals were not only missing out on a lifetime opportunity to have a positive impact on technology development and innovation. They were also missing out on a chance to make a living from technology.
One organization dubbed, Brooklyn On Tech (BOT), established in 2014 set itself out to remedy this. The organization wants to build a culture of change, by giving the residence of Brooklyn, an ecosystem of tech enthusiasts that will create awareness, educate them, and provide the necessary resources and leadership support. The end goal being, to spark an interest in technology among the Brooklyn residence; especially among the public high school students. By inspiring them to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields thus enable them to become part of the new tech ecosystem flourishing in their neighborhood.
Today, Innov8tiv brings you an exclusive interview with the two innovators behind the revolutionary movement embodied as BOT. Meet Evin Floyd Robinson and Jessica Santana, the Co-Founders of Brooklyn On Tech. Their mission is to mobilize the next generation of tech thought leaders emerging from Brooklyn, NY. They have earned degrees in Information Technology, and have worked for various global consultancies in the areas of IT, risk, strategy, design and architecture. Jessica and Evin are very passionate about their community, and are very excited about the launch of the Brooklyn On Tech inaugural class.
Why did you launch Brooklyn on Tech?
We are both natives of Brooklyn, New York and when we left for college to pursue our bachelors and masters degrees, we started to notice infrastructural changes occurring in the borough. Many of these changes were the result of major investments in tech and creative firms that were establishing their headquarters in the area. This migration of technology start-ups and companies creates a job demand for tech-savvy individuals and a substantial amount of local residents do not possess these skills, as shown in various research, reports and publications.
Brooklyn On Tech’s mission is to inspire the next generation of technology thought leaders emerging from the borough of Brooklyn. With a strong desire to give back to our community, we developed an enrichment program (The Tech Flex Scholars Program) for rising seniors attending a Brooklyn public high school. Students will go through an intensive technology-focused curriculum and are paired up with college and career mentors throughout the course of the school year.
This is untapped talent that can contribute to the gardening of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Brooklyn. In essence, our program takes historically underrepresented students in the borough and empowers them with the mentorship, tools and resources they need to consider pursuing degrees in technology-related fields and ultimately obtain careers in technology.
It takes a certain amount of will-power and determination to launch an idea. The biggest challenge has been in moving past the planning phase, setting benchmarks and executing a successful launch. The people who have provided the most support are our family members, Advisory and Brain Trust Councils and other individuals who have provided us with their professional insight and guidance. With their help and support, we have been able to successfully launch Brooklyn On Tech and continue to grow.
In your experience, what do you think is severely lacking within STEM education and what is Brooklyn on Tech doing to impact change in it?
There is an opportunity to improve diversity and inclusion initiatives in STEM education. A major reason for a lack of participation by those in marginalized groups can be attributed to preconceived notions about what skills are required for those who pursue a career in STEM fields. Research conducted illustrates that a lack of self-efficacy among these groups makes them shy away from STEM opportunities.
To combat this, Brooklyn On Tech’s program is combining relevant and relatable curriculum, positive role modeling and other resources to instill in these students the confidence they need to know they can be successful in a STEM career.
As recent college graduates, what is your career advice to college students studying technology?
Our advice is to consider how the world is changing and understand the need for technical skills. However, to work in technology you do not need to be a genius developer. Tech is full of people who did not major in technology and are not coders. With that said, do your research and align your interests with the skills you have and those you want to acquire. This will set you up for success in the field.