Chances are you’ve needed to use a federal website at some point in your life. Perhaps you were applying for student loans or researching scholarships. Maybe you needed to replace a social security card or register for options for supplemental healthcare programs. Any one of these tasks may have brought you up against confusing instructions and unclear steps that left you wondering if you’d ever see a finished application or approval.

These moderns obstacles inspired the task for the AT&T HBCU Hackathon. The call was put out to students across the country for the virtual competition. Teams were tasked with creating innovative, technological solutions to help applicants through the process of registering on federal sites. The winners received cash prizes and networking opportunities to develop their innovations further.

“Everything from the prompt to the final presentation provided us an opportunity to challenge ourselves with critical and collaborative thinking,” said Evan Gray, a member of the winning Team Morehouse. “Having an opportunity to solve any problem within the guidelines as creatively as possible has undoubtedly been inspiring to me.

This inspiration was recognized by judge Bill Blumberg as well, who remarked on the quality of all teams’ submissions. “What stood out to me is the creativity each team brought.”

Bringing together people from different points in their educational and professional careers is what makes events like the HBCU Hackathon essential. Vast perspectives, flowing ideas, and untapped resources give students a taste of what their future careers could be like.

Team Morehouse felt this as they relished the opportunity to work together on an exciting challenge. Team member Arthur Brown said, “I enjoyed collaborating with my classmates and working on solutions to a real-world problem.”

For the judges, the Hackathon was a chance to see the next generation of innovators and help them along their career paths. As a long-time investor in innovation, Blumberg jumped at the chance to participate in the event.

“Hackathons are an opportunity to plug into the innovation pipeline, learn about something new, and meet the people having these ideas.” This innovation pipeline is important for Blumberg as a leader in our Technology Development Program (TDP) – a natural next step for many students.

Unlocking Your Creativity

Bill Blumberg

“We are very deliberate when it comes to innovation in the TDP,” Blumberg explains, “These innovation events are intended to unlock the creativity everyone has and help build confidence for individuals to act on it, just like in the program.”

Grant Commodore of Team Morehouse echoed this sentiment saying, “The problem statement for the Hackathon was thought-provoking and allowed me to grow as an individual developer and team collaborator.”

For Bill Blumberg, innovation represents “the courage to challenge the status quo, the conviction to take that concept in your mind to the next level, and the power to stakeholder it with the people who can bring it to life.”

In seven years, Blumberg has watched the TDP strengthen its presence across college campuses nationwide. Students appreciate the opportunity to learn through real, meaningful work with a Fortune 100 company while still having a safety-net to make mistakes. “It’s a great way to see if you’re on the right path. When you’re ready to graduate, you’ll feel like you’re as prepared as you can be for full-time opportunities.”

If a company that encourages you to make a difference and provides the tools to constantly reimagine the status quo is exciting to you, don’t hesitate. As Blumberg says, “Part of being successful with us is saying, ‘I want to try.’”

From joining the next innovation event to jumping into the TDP, AT&T is the perfect place to grow your career.

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