Closing the Diversity Gap in Tech

Despite organizations’ ongoing efforts to close the diversity gap in tech, there is still plenty of work to be done. Btackling this issue through grassroots efforts and meaningful action, we can leverage the steps we each take separately to contribute to the greater solution. We asked some members of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council to share words of wisdom from their experiences to help guide and inspire those considering careers in IT. 

What inspired you to get into the IT Industry?

Christina Dennis, Delivery Operations Coordinator:

 I’ve always had an interest in technology, from playing Super Nintendo at the age of 8 and building my first website during my HTML class in high school to spending hours and hours playing the SIMS game after school.  I was always intrigued how programmers managed to help us load an entire world onto our screens with so many different options and potential outcomes. I’m a natural born problem solver with a passion for learning about how things work, so the unlimited possibilities of technology inspire me on a daily basis. Technology is one of the most fast paced industry to work in, and I’m excited to see what’s next. 

Jason Dixon, Senior Consultant:

It has always intrigued me. I always felt information technology was one of God’s gifts to the world to assist with helping others. When I was in high school in 2002, one of the predictions I made and documented in our yearbook was that computer chips would someday help people that were blind see, and, true enough, we have seen those things take place. So, at the end of the day, information technology to me is all about helping people in all industries: medical, sports, transportation, manufacturing, etc. 

Penny Thomas, Senior Delivery Manager: 

Initially, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. However, since they were only training women to be flight navigators or cargo pilots at the time, I changed my mind. Then I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, but not being a strong swimmer modified those plans. So, I changed my major to Computer Science.  I have always been fascinated with languages. At ten years old, I taught myself sign language from the encyclopedia. To me, machine language is no different than learning a foreign language. I wrote my first computer program when I was 16. It was fascinating to see the output of my efforts in ‘real-time.’ I also learned an important lesson: computers only do what you tell them to do.   

While their goals and perceptions of the industry may have evolved over time, their passion for IT never faltered. All three team members now hold integral positions within iVision and are key contributors to the team.  

Career at iVision 

Christina Dennis, Delivery Operations Coordinator: 

I joined iVision in October 2019 as the Delivery Operations Coordinator. For almost 2 years, I’ve worked to enhance department relationships to meet operational objectives which positively impact multiple teams across the entire company.   

 

Jason Dixon, Senior Consultant: 

I’ve been with iVision for 19 months now. I work as a Senior Consultant, with a primary focus in the Internetwork Security space, but also focusing on Routing and Switching, Wireless, Data Center and Cloud spaces with our clients. My career at iVision has been amazing. I love the culture and the fact that I see that culture implemented and cultivated throughout every part of the organization, starting with our executive and leadership teams. 

Penny Thomas, Senior Delivery Manager: 

I’m a Senior Delivery Manager at iVision, and I’ve been with the company a little more over a year. I’m responsible for delivering projects, such as O365 Migration, Intune Mobile Device Deployments, Security Operations Center/ Security Event and Incident Management, to name a few. 

Christina, Jason and Penny serve as trusted members of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council to help iVision actively work toward a more inclusive and educated workplace. They leverage their own experiences throughout their distinguished and extensive careers to share wisdom and guidance to those around them. Their insight on the industry allows them to serve as leaders not only to current peers, but prospective industry members as well. 

 What advice would you give to someone who might be considering a career in IT?   

Christina Dennis, Delivery Operations Coordinator: 

  • Find your own path. There are many different ways you can learn about technology. Most people choose higher education, but you can also sign up for IT bootcamps or study for certifications on your own with online courses and other resources 
  • Motivate yourself. Set personal goals with an organized schedule to keep you on track so you can see your progress and communicate your strengths. 
  • Get started now. There are tons of positions with accelerated training for people with all levels of experience. Focus on your strengths and enhance your knowledge with onthejob training/ experience as you go.  
  • Ignore myths and rumors.  You don’t have to be computer savvy or a math genius to apply. Put in the time and effort to work towards your goal step by step. There is so much opportunity in the tech space for you to find your own niche.  
  • Use what you have.  Look for roles within your industry.  Emphasize relevant non-technical skills and think of things you might have done in the past that would be relevant to a tech job.  
  • Get uncomfortable. Get involved. Go to meetups, attend conferences.  Join forums and online groups. 

    Jason Dixon, Senior Consultant: 

    The possibilities are limitless in IT. There are so many different fields of study and you may not like one field but love another. Once you find that one that you love, you have one of the most solid foundations in the world. It will take you as far as you want to go and into any industry you want to be an asset in. 

     

    Penny Thomas, Senior Delivery Manager: 

    IT has come a long way and it continues to evolve. The only constant is change, and there is never a dull moment.  Your career is what you make it. Now with industry certifications, not having a degree is no longer an impediment. I would liken this era to the Industrial Revolution. The world has been changed by information technology. Embrace and be part of the change, as it only takes one to make a difference.  

    It’s crucial for organizations to become educated on ways we can improve the experience of all current and prospective minority members of the IT community. This process doesn’t have to wait until people join the workforce. We have the chance to participate in community outreach programs and work with high school and higher education school counselors to better prepare minority students for careers in IT. Getting young people interested and educated on these opportunities opens up a whole new diverse talent pool for the industry.  

    Beyond hiring, though, retention is important. Organizations need to maintain opportunities for minorities to continue to progress throughout their careersOnce these initial steps are taken, results must be tracked and adjustments made. This gap is far from being closed, but by continuing the conversation about barriers in our industry, we create opportunities for change. 

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