Kristina Smith of TechBridge tackles digital divide with Atlanta tech camp

Photo by Amir Shaw for Steed Media Service

Atlanta has become a magnet for the Tech industry and now there is an exciting opportunity for those holding High School diplomas or a GED. The program is called TechBridge and its mission is to train young adults from the ages of 18-24 in the skills needed in today’s tech environment. Rolling out spoke with Kristina Smith, a program manager for the technology career program at TechBridge.

Please tell our readers about yourself and the TechBridge program.

The technology career program is targeted toward people who are between the ages of 18-24 and have a high school diploma or GED. We are looking for those persons who are considered to be untapped talent from untraditional sources. We are looking for participants who don’t have a college degree and live in the city of Atlanta that meet our age criteria. We want people looking for training in the skills needed for a career in today’s technology-driven environment.

How do you define innovation in today’s culture?

I think innovation involves creativity, improvement and it involves and collaboration. It is the idea of making something better. It does not necessarily mean creating something new, but always improving upon what currently exists. We use different technology tools, apps and resources every day and we all have ideas on what we want it to do and how it can be improved. I think that is what innovation is, putting forth the skills and collaboration needed to make those ideas a reality.

What skills are needed to close the gap in the digital and gender divide in today’s tech-driven marketplace?

For me, being a woman of color and also coming from a technology background, I have an understanding of what is needed to be successful in a technology-driven career. The first thing needed is an understanding o the technology itself. So we will be teaching web development, JAVA programming, HTML coding, and sales force. Having an understanding of the technology is what is needed initially.  But also needed is the motivation to be successful. It’s a little more difficult to be successful in technology being a woman because you may not have as many role models, mentors or familiarity with your coworkers. So the motivation to persevere beyond some of those obstacles is something that we would need.

Another skill is not being afraid to take risks. Being a woman sometimes we are told to be perfect or we need to have everything together before we can put an idea in front of someone else. Since technology is moving so quickly, following that thought process we could be left behind. So being someone willing to take risks and not be afraid of failing and who is confident in putting out their best effort, even if it involves receiving some constructive feedback is something we want to teach our participants in the program.

Lastly, the motivation to reach back and help those coming behind us. As a woman, something we need to do is not only make a name for ourselves in the Tech field but also to turn around and help those other women who are trying to learn and do the same.

What type of personality is suited for a career in today’s tech world?

Personality, it can be anyone. There is no particular mold you have to be to enter the field. We are looking for people who are motivated and passionate about learning. We are looking for persons who can work well with others and be driven enough to work alone. I think that woman and girls of all types of backgrounds and personalities can excel in these different ways regardless of stereotypes.

What would you like to say to our readers in closing?

Take a look at our technology career program and see if you are eligible or pass it along to someone else. If you are a student and could benefit from a program like this don’t be afraid to apply. This is your chance to move from a place of a mediocre existence in a career to move to a place you really want to go. It’s a completely free program there is no reason for you not to apply if you meet the criteria. I want you to take away from this is that the least you can do for yourself and your future is to fill out an application and try to give yourself an opportunity for a successful future.

To learn more about the program visit the TechBridge website at  https://techbridge.org/

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



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