In this month’s column, Siedah counsels a reader who wants to know if it’s possible to be in the design field without having a degree in design.
Few places show the lack of diversity in design and tech like conferences. It’s not uncommon to be one of a handful of brown faces in a crowd of hundreds. Obviously it’s not hard to miss each other, but are we actually connecting? And if we’re not, what’s going on?
Although signs are showing that the job market is improving, the unemployment rate for African-Americans in the U.S. is still more than double the unemployment rate for whites. While there are a number of reasons why this is the case, many experts say that a lack of a strong network of professionals will hinder many people’s job searches.
Finding a job is about who you know, and that can make the search even more difficult for African-Americans. In a 2013 study published by the Russell Sage Foundation, Professor Nancy DiTomaso of Rutgers University says that hidden forms of racial inequality tied to seemingly innocuous things like networking are holding black job-seekers back. In a job market where hiring is increasingly based on personal connections and internal employee referrals, African-Americans are at a disadvantage because they don’t have as much “social capital” and aren’t as connected to networks that can help them land good jobs compared to other races.
For black professionals in the fields of web development, web design, and graphic design, finding a strong professional network is especially important. The combination of fierce competition for jobs and the smaller number of black professionals in the field may mean that you will be passed over for opportunities. However, by following these tips, you’ll be able to create and establish a network of professionals that will enable you to to take your career to the next level.