Earlier this week, the University of Georgia released a study: “African-American men don’t reap same career benefits from mentoring as Caucasians.” Although I personally would be quick to disagree, the study makes a profound case for its findings, and can be a great factor in helping to direct the future of young black men.
First and foremost, as a ‘person of melanin’ as I like to say, it’s always important to realize that although you definitely are not hindered from achieving any amount of success, the obstacles you face are more detrimental to you than others. Georgia University’s study is a great look into the business world and presents several reasons as to why African-American men appear to be the least successful in the industry.
Here’s a few tips (based upon their research) that may help you, friends, or family who may be in high school, embarking upon college or sitting with their degree.
1. Don’t be fooled.
Education is key. Sometimes when you’re determined, you can feel that it is so much so that you could make every move on your own. Even during college, I remember feeling like I was wasting time. But the most important thing about education is history. Knowing your past, finding the tools, and putting them to work. College is more than thousands of dollars for a piece of paper (and loans.. help us all), but it’s also about networking, finding your strengths, and taming your weaknesses
2. Represent with sense
When many African-Americans apply for college, the main three factors tend to be money, location, and race-relations. But if your sole reason for attending an HBCU is because you want to be around as many people like you as possible, I challenge you to take a chance on diversity. While HBCU’s have their own magical experiences uncanny to any other colleges, there are hundreds of other opportunities that may present themselves at a more diverse setting than not. Beginning with yourself, stepping out of boundaries can be the first step to success. Allow uncomfortable situations to arise, learn how to deal with different cultures, different upbringings and beliefs, and in the end, you’ll be more prepared for what awaits in the business world.
3. Think Variety
Even if your dream job is to sit on the Board of Directors at BET, interning with BET may only be the very first step on your ladder. While having a mentor who is familiar in your plight is a plus, be sure that you are not limiting yourself to a small realm of society. In reality, many Black men are not in a position of power. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Apply to internships that will place you in contact with all walks of life, all positions of power, and all areas of networking. I’m not saying to drop your internship with BET for E!, but consider E!, CBS, CNN, and maybe even Fox News for some new experiences and good stories to spiel for the rest of us!