The Black Digerati

Contrary to popular belief, African Americans are masters and creators of the Information Age. Major players in the field tell us what the future holds. .

he explains. “In today’s world, information is power and that increases exponentially with the ability to communicate with more people.” Smith cites China’s ineffectiveness in controlling the Internet and the United States’ difficulties in preventing the export of encryption software as evidence of the inability to control the worldwide flow of information. “We will become much more world-centric as opposed to nationalistic,” says Smith. He also believes African Americans, in large part, are misinformed about technology and its implications. “People who aren’t familiar with computers and how they automate things tend to think they eliminate jobs as opposed to looking at the myriad of opportunities they create,” he adds. He advises anyone who will listen to become familiar with the world of the Internet. “When people come to me for career counseling, the first thing I ask is, `How Internet savvy are you?”‘ states Smith. “Even people who use computers but aren’t schooled in the Internet are falling behind daily. If a 10-year-old kid is not Internet-savvy, he or she is already behind.” .

William Stewart, CEO Apollo Programming Industries

If you’ve browsed the employment section of the newspaper lately, you’ve noticed the large number of computer networking and programming-related jobs listed. Helping to find the right people to fill these high-demand positions for Fortune 100 companies is William J. Stewart, CEO of Apollo Programming Industries in Los Altos, California. As head of the more than $2 million computer contracting and technical placement firm in Silicon Valley, Stewart knows exactly what kinds of technologies and skills are in demand. But with more technical positions available than qualified people to fill them, his is not always an easy task.

But Stewart, 59, is accustomed to challenges. His long list of achievements in the computer industry includes managing the team of IBM developers who introduced the concept that was the forerunner to client/ server systems. This application proved to be the basis for the majority of networks around the world–including the Internet.

There are numerous areas in IT that offer abundant employment opportunities, including network and PC support, says the high-tech headhunter. Network design engineers are in high demand, especially those who have Microsoft Windows NT (network) experience. System administrators, particularly those with Unix experience, are also highly sought after. Software and systems programming and development also provide a quick and lucrative entree to the field, adds Stewart. Key skills include experience with object-oriented programming languages such as C++, Java and Visual Basic for the development of a wide variety of application systems, including Web applications.

The good thing about the IT industry is that many of the available positions don’t require bachelor’s degrees, just an educational background and some specific technical expertise, says Stewart. It also doesn’t matter if you’re white, black or indifferent–as long as you’ve got the skills.

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