VFI Leader Nikkia Carter Has a Passion for Bringing Tech Opportunities to All
Here’s a plain, simple fact: technology got me out of poverty and into the middle class. Millions of Americans should have this opportunity, but our nation isn’t doing enough. I got involved with Voices for Innovation for many reasons—but especially to push for tech policies that open educational and career opportunities for all.
I was lucky. When I was a kid, my Dad scraped together enough money to buy a Tandy computer. It came with a book about BASIC, and I taught myself to code. I also got the chance to attend Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (BPI), a great public high school that offered me a chance to learn a lot more about computers.
After that, I had the confidence to pursue a BS in Computer Science and a Master’s in IT Project Management. Today, I run my own small IT consulting business—Carter-McGown Services—with a focus on Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365. I am certain that many Americans can follow in my footsteps if we put in place better education and workforce policies.
A Chance to Learn Where You Excel
When I was a kid, I was a tomboy with an interest in technology. My family and educators were supportive. I didn’t get tracked away from computers.
Unfortunately, too many young people—especially women and minorities—don’t get exposed to Computer Science or encouraged to pursue this field. This is true for the majority of American students, but especially true for minorities and women. Less than 1% of all Advanced Placement tests administered in the U.S. are taken in Computer Science. Only 15% of the test takers are women, and only 8% are African American or Hispanic. We can do a lot better.
I truly believe that there are millions of people who can pursue successful careers in technology—but they don’t know anything about the field or that they can succeed. We need to give not only students but working people the chance to learn that they can excel in technology. People who once worked in manufacturing should have the opportunity to retrain and learn advanced computer skills.
Teaching and Advocating
Though I spend most of my workdays serving my customers and building my business, I also commit time to advocating for better tech policies and helping others advance in technology. I serve as a trainer for two organizations—H.O.P.E. Project DC and Year Up National Capital Region—which enables me to bring my knowledge and enthusiasm right to young people.
I’ve also been active for a few years with the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) and IAMCP Women in Technology (WIT). I currently serve as the Philanthropy Chair for the DC Chapter of the IAMCP and as the IAMCP DC WIT Community Lead.
I learned about Voices for Innovation first from seeing the organization’s tweets on issues that mattered to me—especially STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. After meeting with VFI organizers and members at the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), I got really involved. VFI helps keep me informed about tech policies and be a better advocate about issues I care about. In 2015, as part of a VFI trip, I had a chance to share my views on Capitol Hill.
Unfortunately, many government leaders do not understand the world of technology or small business. Yet government has the ability to steer education, workforce training, and economic development. We need more of our community to share our ideas and concerns with elected officials so that they can do better.
Nikkia Carter is the CEO of Carter-McGowan Services, a Microsoft Silver Small and Midmarket Partner and SMB Champion, specializing in business technology consulting, development, migration/setup, support/managed services, and training. A CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer and a Microsoft Certified Professional, Nikkia has been a featured speaker at several conferences and events, including Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), IT ProCamp, Office 365 Ramp-Up Day, SP24, and others.