Six Black students in a Zoom meeting.
Members of the Black Students in Business Executive Board (from top left) Tatum Annan, Dorian Simpkins, Brendy Kamba, Priscilla Louis, Alayzia Harris and Kyle Frank.

New organization Black Students in Business provides professional development opportunities and community engagement

Dorian Simpkins

Dorian Simpkins

In June, the Black Lives Matter movement reached a boiling point that took an emotional toll on myself, my Black friends and family, and the country as a whole. As we watched these events unfold, JJ Oni (BSAc ’19, MAcc ’21) and I recognized the need for a community in the Warrington College of Business for students who were feeling these same emotions and facing the same hardships.

Spurred by the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest, we encouraged Black business students to join a conversation we hosted via Zoom to voice their opinions.

During our initial focus group with about 20 students, we came to understand that Black business students felt the same absence of community, specifically in the business school, as well as a lack of information concerning career opportunities geared toward Black business students. It was this notion that there is not a lack of talent, but a lack of awareness of opportunities that many companies provide specifically for my Black peers that pushed us to create Black Students in Business (BSiB).

Black Students in Business is open to all undergraduate Black students pursuing a degree in business, whether that be a major or a minor. We also invite allies of the Black community to attend our meetings, considering our subjects are educational and beneficial.

Our goal is to provide our student members with information about companies that are looking to hire a diverse workforce. Many companies offer specific programs/scholarships for Black students, so instead of having to stumble upon these opportunities ourselves, we provide information about these opportunities to our members. As a result, we want our members to receive career development opportunities that they may not have been aware of previously.

In addition to helping our members in their career search, and most importantly, we hope to bring our community together. It can be unnerving being the only Black student in a room or in a meeting which can deter students from getting involved. The social aspect of BSiB is intended to instill confidence among our members to pursue opportunities in the business school as well as offer human resources to aid them along the way.

This fall, we have already begun hosting company recruiters at our general body meetings in addition to being involved with ALPFA’s Diversity Speaker Series and Heavener’s Diversify Your Network events. In the spring, we hope to partner with local Black professionals to offer mentorship to our members.

We also are encouraging our members to build on their leadership skills in chair positions within BSiB, especially underclassmen who will get to work with an Executive Board member in areas ranging from finance to marketing. We’re proud that we can also help prepare members for leadership positions outside of BSiB through our professional development series. We are constantly hosting speakers who help our members develop professionally and build upon their leadership capabilities. 

While organizing these opportunities in the time of COVID-19 is definitely unprecedented, we choose to observe it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. The virtual environment has allowed us to be more ambitious with speakers that we host, which gives our members a wider breadth of voices to hear from. Our Vice President of Internal Development, Priscilla Louis (BSBA, MIB ’21), is also working on developing socially distant and virtual social initiatives to address our community needs. A special thanks to all of the BSiB Executive Board for all of their efforts: Vice President Kyle Frank (BSBA ’22), Vice President of Finance Brendy Kamba (BSBA ’21), Vice President of Internal Development Priscilla Louis, Vice President of Marketing Tatum Annan (BSBA ’20) and Vice President of Communications Alayzia Harris (BABA, BA ’22).

Personally, this experience has given me the opportunity to utilize emotional intelligence in the form of empathy, strategic planning skills as I collaborate with my six Executive Board members to plan events, and interpersonal skills through interactions with both members and company recruiters.

I hope this organization will continue to flourish and provide Black students with opportunities both on and off campus. Most importantly, I hope that this will give Black students a more prevalent voice on campus to address equity and inclusion in the Warrington College of Business.

Those interested in getting involved with BSiB should follow us @ufBSiB and fill out the new member survey (link in bio). You will be prompted to sign up for our listserv to stay up to date with all of our upcoming events.