If you’re a recent or upcoming graduate from a Historically Black College or University, your mind is probably on the job hunt. What are your career options? Where can your experience best apply? Our development programs are excellent options for graduates to discover their strengths – whether they’re in leadership, technology or other areas of business. We asked our participants about their insights after graduating from an HBCU, and what the experience means to them.
Urel Mattis – Software Engineer, Technology Development Program
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
“I work as a Level II Software Engineer, where I assist in the development of large-scale automation efforts within AT&T Field Operations. Day-to-day I develop technical solutions geared to support our field technicians.
“To me, graduating from an HBCU gave me a sense of pride and dignity to fulfill the dreams of my ancestors who came before me and fought for my right to equal education. AT&T exemplifies the meaning of diversity and excellence in everything they do. My Alma Mater taught me to be humble and disciplined while remaining poised for moments of adversity.
“If I could offer any advice to current HBCU students, it would be to never take networking opportunities for granted. Building on positive relationships has driven my career to heights I never thought I could see.”
Darian Penn – Client Solutions Executive, B2B Sales Development Program
“After interning with AT&T in 2017, I realized this was a company that took care of its employees. It also helped me realize how limitless my career opportunities here could be. Today, I’m the account manager for over one thousand accounts in Georgia. My day-to-day involves working closely with city managers, administrators, public safety officials and customers in the education field.
“Graduating from an HBCU was, by far, one of the best decisions I made. My experience made me more comfortable in my ethnicity and allowed me to approach my career with more confidence. HBCUs build that confidence in students, it’s an important quality to have in the corporate workplace where more often than not you’re a minority.
“For HBCU students looking to start their career here: Be confident, patient, coachable and work hard every day. If I could offer advice to my younger self after graduating, it would be to never compare yourself to your peers. The journey to success looks different for everyone, what matters most is that you never give up on your dreams and believe in who you are, because you’re one of a kind.”
Kyle Phox – Channel Manager S1, B2B Sales Development Program
“I work from our corporate office in Atlanta in a new role called the Channel Manager S1. On a typical day, I’m often on the phone leveraging relationships with our Solution Providers for extended support and development in New Jersey. I chose AT&T after being fortunate enough to attend an HBCU Trek at the company’s headquarters and office. It felt like home. I thought about sales and, from a selling perspective, AT&T sells itself.
“To be an HBCU graduate means that I’m forever aligned with the standard of excellence. I feel like the créme of the crop because of the school’s expectations enhancing our character. I saw so many successful people, they motivated me to shoot for the top and work at a successful company like AT&T. Graduating from an HBCU teaches you how to love yourself before you get into the real world, where not everyone does.
“If you’re getting ready to start your career with AT&T know that you’re expected to work hard. At the same time, you have the ability to grow professionally. The connections you’re going to make inside of the company are connections you’ll always have – and need – to further your career.”
Sheriff Adewumi – Software Engineer, Technology Development Program
“I’m currently a Software Engineer in AT&T’s Lab Ops organization building solutions to automate various testing within our lab infrastructure. After two internships at other companies who boasted about their ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ initiatives being successful, I didn’t feel the same way. When I went to AT&T L1VE, it was a different story. I felt like I was part of the community before I even got the job offer. That sense of family resonated with me way more than in any other company.
“Being able to graduate from an HBCU meant experiencing the fruits of the African American diaspora. Both domestically and internationally – I made connections with fellow students from Nepal all the way to Nigeria. I witnessed first-hand the power of African American talent and how that power multiplies when we empower and uplift one another.
“For those who think they’re not technical enough to work here – don’t be afraid. I was in no way a software engineer when I first started, but through networking, a good amount of curiosity and plenty of (enjoyable) training, I brought myself up to speed in the software engineering role and learned every day. I would have never imagined this before applying.