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Black in Tech: Baron Washington, Application Support Analyst at PrismHR

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Our Black in Tech series features the career path & advice from Black professionals in the tech industry. In this Q&A, Baron Washington, Application Support Analyst at PrismHR shares his story.

Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?

I grew up in a small town called Kingstree, SC, which is located in Williamsburg county and is one of the poorer places in South Carolina based on median income. My mom worked hard, as she would complete her undergrad and Masters degree in Accounting while also working and being a mom to my siblings and I. She would eventually become the Clerk of Court of the county of Williamsburg. My father lived about 2 hours away and I would see him on weekends. He worked his way up and eventually became a supervisor at his job, where they produce pasta noodles. 

Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating? 

I started out going to Francis Marion University in Florence, SC right after high school. I was not quite sure what I wanted to major in and would eventually leave school. I went into the US Army National Guard and after a few years my friends convinced me that it was time to enroll in school once again. I thank them for that push or in all honesty I may have never gone back. I started my educational journey once again this time at Horry Georgetown Technical where I would study and obtain my Associate's degree with honors. I am now enrolled at USC Upstate, where I am studying for an undergrad degree in Information Management & Systems. 

What inspired you to get into the tech industry?

I would say it is almost as if life forced me in this direction, I never imagined that I would join the tech industry in all honesty. That paired with my good friend Carlos Cunningham giving me the push in this direction led to me enrolling at USC Upstate and studying Information Management & Systems. In addition, I would just read the stories on social media of how the tech industry was changing individuals lives, some of whom had never even been to college. That inspired me, as well as knowing that technology is constantly changing and it is the way of the world. 

What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining PrismHR? 

I would like to thank Stacie Burton and Lee Moreau for seeing the potential within me, as this is my first true “tech” position. Before joining PrismHR, I previously worked for Spectrum in our retention department for close to two years. After that, I would transition to Verizon Wireless where I was employed for approximately 4 years as a Solutions Specialist.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as an Application Support Analyst at PrismHR?

As an Application Support Analyst, it is my duty to assist with product testing, stay current with system information, and respond to client inquiries or concerns in a timely manner via Salesforce. In addition, I must be able to identify and escalate application defects and issues. 

What has attributed to your success thus far and what types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional? 

My resilience, as well as my will to want to win have contributed to my success thus far. My friends and family have helped me to continue to push forward as well. There have been setbacks along the way, but I continue to strive to be a better version of myself. As a black professional, I believe at times we can be up against stereotypes and a lack of representation in senior-level positions. Sometimes lower pay, retention rates, and fewer promotions than our counterparts. In addition, sometimes you have to be much better than your white counterparts that are interviewing around you for a similar position. I have had friends that said that their degrees were not looked at the same as their counterparts because they graduated from HBCU’s versus a PWI, although they can do the job and are qualified. 

What types of programs and initiatives does PrismHR have that support diversity, equity, and inclusion?

We have transformed our workplace into an inclusive environment where individuals are valued for their talents and empowered to reach their fullest potential. At PrismHR, we strive to continually lead with our values and beliefs that enable our employees to develop their potential, bring their full self to the workplace, and engage in a world of inclusion. 

Ensuring an inclusive environment for our employees is an integral part of the PrismHR culture. We aren't just checking a box, we are truly committed to creating a workplace that celebrates the diversity of our employees and fosters a sense of belonging for everyone. This is essential to our success.

What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry? 

My advice would be to take advantage of the “FREE” resources available. There are truly so many resources available out there. Get active on LinkedIn and Twitter as there is so much information I have been able to come across on these platforms. Not only is the information valuable but the individuals you are able to connect with is priceless. Individuals that I have met online have shared countless Google drives with me at no cost. I was able to get my Scrum certification for free simply because of an account I followed on Twitter. No matter what career path you have started out with I assure you that you have transferable skills for the technology industry. Lastly, I would suggest that you perfect your resume as that will always be a representation of you, your past work, and the skills that you possess. 

While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?

I think as employees, we have to be willing to share the information and knowledge that we have with our inner city youth. I would like to see more of our tech companies donating to our schools in the inner cities and HBCU’s while also having individuals come out to speak and share their experiences. I also would suggest offering summer programs or bootcamps to individuals in school that find interest in tech. These small steps can begin to go a long way on a much larger scale. Investing in more black people can begin to change the landscape of these companies and how we are represented.

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PrismHR creates exceptional software and services for HR service providers and their SMB clients.

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