How Blacks In Technology Helped Me Level Up in Tech

By Aqueelah Grant 4 Comments

My vendor booth at the Fayetteville Ladies Power Luncheon

May was the most amazing month ever for me. I was a vendor at the Fayetteville Ladies Power Luncheon. My husband and I crashed a coding event with our toddler. We found out when we arrived, that the event was for kids 8 and up. I also participated in Fayetteville North Carolina’s local InnovateHer competition. Even though I didn’t win, it was an amazing experience. My company was also featured twice in the Fayetteville Observer.

My daughter and I after crashing coder school

For those of you that don’t know my story, I’ll rewind a little for you. As I need everyone to know that these moments didn’t come easy. They didn’t come without a little backup. Five years ago my career was a blip on the radar. I was in and out of consciousness of what it meant to be in tech. Heck, I was trying to figure out what it meant to actually be happy in my career.

In April of 2012, I had been in the technology industry for about six years. I landed my first tech role in December of 2005 and started in January 2006. I had been trying to get into the industry since I graduated college in May of 2002.

The day I emailed Greg I was on a “staycation” from my job at the time. I took a week off to refocus my mind. I also took the time to start my very first tech blog. I can’t remember exactly how I found out about Greg. I remember saying, “what the heck, let me email him my blog to see what he thinks”. I never expected to hear back.

Within the same day, I received a response from Greg. We had a chat where he told me about an idea he had for a platform called, “Blacks In Technology.” At the time I was very honored to hear about his vision. I never dreamed that 5 years later I’d still be benefiting from the fruits of it. Blacks In Technology’s first edition came out in November of 2012. I was one of the first writers for the site. I was also probably the most amateur at the time.

Email with Greg about BIT in April of 2012

I began to leverage the fact that I wrote for Blacks In Technology at work and even in interviews. In 2013, a year after writing for Blacks In Technology I left my full-time job to try my hand at consulting. It was a very bold move for me.  As I often fell victim to safety nets that weren’t always that safe, I had no idea if I would succeed. I only knew it was time to make moves.

A year later, in 2014 one of the companies I consulted with scooped me up. They put me in a Director level tech position. At the same time, I had gotten a full-time offer from another company I consulted with. Both were for senior level positions. This was huge because at my last full-time job I was in a junior level position for quite some time.

Fast forward 5 years later, I’ve started my own company. I helped one of my clients not only get her business off the ground, I taught her how to build her own website. This was also big for me since the majority of my career had been spent mostly in software testing. I also got her into blogging. I’ve written for Blacks In Technology, Women 2.0, Career Relaunch, and Lifehack.org. I was also recently asked to write for Thrive Global by Arianna Huffington herself. One of my business mentors who came up with the name for my company was someone I met through BIT!

My life isn’t perfect. But it is nowhere near where it was on that lonely day 5 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I still have very rough days. Starting a business is not easy at all. But because of platforms like Blacks In Technology, I hold on to the fact that I can do it. That I belong here.

Blacks In Technology helped me knuckle up and level up in an industry where I was once told to shut up.

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About the Author

Aqueelah Emanuel is currently the Founder & CIO Of AQ's Corner She has 10+ years experience in the software testing industry. She is also very familiar with the startup ecosystem, having spent 8+ years working in tech startups. Aqueelah was born and raised in Newark, NJ and is currently residing in Spring Lake, NC. She attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Science and an Associates in Applied Computer Science. She is also a Certified ScrumMaster. Her most important roles are being an Army Wife and New Mom. AQ's Corner (website) Twitter: @aemanuel9

  • Henry A. McKelvey

    Very cool, congratulations!!

    • AQ’s Corner

      As always thanks for your support Henry!

  • MIC CAMP

    Awesome story!!! #inspired

    • AQ’s Corner

      Thank you for checking out the article and commenting!