Sherrell Dorsey, Data Journalist and Founder
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m a data journalist analyzing and covering trends in the black tech ecosystem related to public policy, equity, education, and the growth of black tech communities. I am also the founder of ThePLUGDaily.com—the first daily technology newsletter covering founders and innovators of color. I also run BLKTECHCLT—Charlotte’s first black tech hub supporting black entrepreneurship and research initiatives in the city.
How and why did you get involved in tech
I learned to code in high school thanks to an internship training program with the Technology Access Foundation in my native Seattle, Washington. As part of my program, I interned at Microsoft four summers in a row before leaving for college. Today, much of my work in tech has been about working in roles that have allowed me to bring transformative solutions to communities be that via transportation as a former marketing manager at Uber, or through high-speed internet access through my former contract sales role at Google Fiber. Tech offers a variety of opportunities to solve immediate challenges for businesses, communities, and people. I am passionate and committed to fostering the cultivation, growth, and sustainability of entrepreneurs creating technology-driven solutions to answer some of the critical questions around workforce development and economic mobility in communities of color.
What is your experience being a POC in Tech?
Early on, working for small companies, much of my experience was about having to be a self-starter committed to wearing many hats in the business. At smaller companies, my relationship with my bosses (often the CEO) was critical to my success at the company.
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?
Explore the diversity of opportunities that exist within the technology industry and adjacent industries. Not having a hardcore tech degree or skill-set will not prevent you from becoming a power-player in the industry.
Also, community matters. If you don’t live in a major tech hub, don’t count out the opportunities you might find in your city. Attend the hackathons, conferences, meetups, and summits in your town that will connect you to a community of people that can help you navigate local resources, opportunities, and potentially help you find what you’re most interested in pursuing from a career perspective. And if any of those things don’t yet exist, get to work creating these gatherings and gaining support from your city leadership and corporate employers to bring stories of innovations to your town.