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Black in Tech – my experience at a startup

Gabi Gaujean
February 1, 2022

This article is the inaugural piece to a new series: “… in Tech” where we ask a member of the team at Snappy to give us their experience as a member of their community, specifically what working at tech startup means to them as an individual, and on a societal level. It’s important to share these stories to better understand the experiences that may not be our own.

Note: Our job is not for them to educate us, but to listen to their story. Each team member is simply sharing their story, so we can gain a deeper appreciation for those experiences. We hope you enjoy the series!

Every morning, I log in to my laptop to check my work email and see what issues may have popped up overnight – which may dictate how my day will go. As a Senior Customer Experience Specialist at Snappy, I have a fair amount of responsibility. It’s my job to make sure everything runs smoothly for our customers and to solve any challenges as they come up.

I help thousands of people, all from my apartment in Brooklyn. This isn’t just a job, it’s a career. When I’m not helping Snappy customers, I’m focused on the very ambitious goal of reading 109 books by the end of the year and so far, I’m right on track.

Does my work have its challenges? Absolutely. I don’t see challenges as an obstacle though, they’re more of an opportunity. In the startup world, you’re more likely to succeed if you find creative solutions to complex problems and that’s how I learned to move up Snappy. Being a 25 year-old Black queer person working in tech historically hasn’t been easy, but at Snappy I know my skills are valued and appreciated.

Progress but not utopia

My experience being Black, queer, and in my mid-twenties working at a tech startup has its own set of challenges, but I’m thankful that tech is such a  progressive sector. There’s an impulse in tech to drive change, make a difference and think creatively – it’s what we do every day.

It helps that startup culture is usually centered around like-minded people with similar values. That alone can turn the wheels of change, even if by a little. In the face of Black History Month, we don’t need new – we need real. Tech attracts people who like to innovate. I feel like the most important part of Black History Month isn’t who has the fanciest new idea – it’s whatever institutional policy can create change. That comes in reflecting on where we need to do better.

For example, a friend of mine recently told me that for Black History Month, their company asked the Black employees to speak on a Zoom lunch and learn. While it’s an interesting idea and helps facilitate conversations, it can place an undue burden and pressure on Black individuals. Granted, I am writing about my experience, but the nuances are completely different and there was no burden placed on me.

We can’t move faster than where we are, and we need to be honest about where that is. Tech is a much more progressive industry than some of its older counterparts, it’s why I picked a career in this field. It’s safe and promises more than other industries, but it’s not a utopia.

Reflect and drive change

I was asked to write this piece as part of Snappy’s Black History Month campaign because we know people want to hear more Black experiences, from those who live it every day. Not just an outside perspective, but from the source itself. For me, Black History Month is about celebration and reflection. Being able to take pride in my community, family, and what we bring to the table is reason alone to celebrate all year long.

What Black History Month means to me as an individual is a bit different than what it means at Snappy.  On an institutional level, the role of the organization should emphasize reflection and actionable policy-supported change. It's a learning and growing process that I'm glad to be a part of here at Snappy.

Looking to the future

Working at Snappy has shown me that change is possible as the company grows. This year, we hired Gabrielle Moore, our first Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager. I’m excited to see how the Tech sector will evolve over the next few years, but I’m even more excited to see how Snappy will continue to grow.

Editor’s note:

This piece was written as part of the …In Tech series where we feature stories of our team members, getting their unique perspectives on their experiences and how they shine at Snappy. We’re always looking for amazing people to join our team, so we’d love for you to explore exciting opportunities at Snappy.

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