Students meet Silicon Valley entrepreneurs on #DMUglobal trip

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have arrived in San Francisco's Silicon Valley for a week meeting more than 30 business leaders from some of the world's most successful tech companies.  

The trip will focus on the lack of diversity in the multi-billion-pound tech industry and the students will receive advice on how to secure a job or start their own business in the world of technology.
The group of 10 Computer Science and Advertising and Marketing students started day one of the trip with a breakfast meeting at multi-million-dollar web host company Weebly, (launched just nine years ago),  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 shared their tips on nailing the interview to secure the ideal role.  
The trip has been arranged by Mark Prescod, Associate Professor of Marketing at DMU’s Faculty of Business and Law and DMU alumnus Dion McKenzie, founder of Colorintech, a not for profit which aims to make Silicon Valley and London’s innovation economy more diverse and inclusive.

Mark said: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the students on this trip. We are giving them access to the best entrepreneurs and investors in the world. We want them to take what they learn this week and make those career decisions that could change their lives."
Kate Lowe and Tatenda Sigaukeare, Computer Science students, and Miles Deans, Advertising and Marketing Communications student, are all part of this exciting #DMUglobal visit, designed to underpin their studies and enhance their career prospects.
They learned more about the drive to increase diversity in America’s tech heartland Silicon Valley - where 97% of workers are white - and received bespoke career coaching to help them negotiate assessments, pitching and interviews.
During their first day in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, they learned how entrepreneurs have taken start-ups to success. The students discussed the organisation’s culture and the value of good mentors with Weebly product manager, Lisa Fong, and the power of making connections, and using online resources to grow their knowledge from Raoul Lopez, the company's recruiting manager.
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At the end of a jam-packed day, final words belonged to Dion Mckenzie.  He said: "In Silicon Valley, 97% of workers are white. Inclusivity is very important here, people lose jobs because companies are not diverse enough and there is a lack of good engineers.  Opportunities exist because these companies see that they need to diversify their teams to be more successful."
The drive to increase representation of BAME workers in Silicon Valley has parallels with ongoing work at DMU to close the BAME attainment gap among students.   
DMU is one of six UK universities working on a £500,000 pilot project to increase the number of students from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to receive good honours degrees.  The university has also launched a mentoring programme aimed at addressing the attainment gap, championed by Chancellor Doreen Lawrence.

Posted on: Thursday 09 November 2017

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