To borrow a trite, yet totally true, saying: It takes a village to raise a developer. Okay, we changed the quote a little bit, but the sentiment is spot-on.
The tech industry can be tricky to navigate, especially for self-taught programmers and folks from non-traditional backgrounds who may not have access to some of the resources and opportunities you’d find in college. And it’s not just the technical stuff you have to learn — there are whiteboard interviews, corporate cultures (and subcultures), and soft skills you’ll need as you take on more leadership and responsibility. That’s one of the many reasons why having the right people in your corner throughout your career can be invaluable.
Fortunately, there are tons of organizations out there that help tech newbies grow and build their own circle of supporters, mentors, and collaborators. In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, we’re highlighting communities and organizations that are dedicated to empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals in the field.
Aspire (Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence)
Aspire is a volunteer-driven organization that helps nurture Asian American girls and women. Many Asian American women professionals face unique obstacles in their careers, including pay gaps and harmful stereotypes. Aspire helps women of all ages prepare for and overcome these challenges by bringing them together for cross-generational dialogue on topics like professional development, confident leadership, and positive relationships.
Want to get involved with Aspire? You can participate in their local events or even apply to join one of their leadership boards and committees. And if you’re looking for a mentor (or open to mentoring someone else), consider joining their 2023 Mentorship Program.
API Who Design
API Who Design is an online directory and community of Asian and Pacific Islander designers, including Web Designers, UI/UX Designers, Product Designers, Illustrators, and more. You can join their roster by submitting your application (you have to share your selfie, portfolio, and social links). Once you’re accepted, you can meet and connect with other API creatives in their Slack channel and even find job postings.
AAMA (Asia America MultiTechnology Association)
AAMA is a global pan-Asian community of tech professionals. It’s the largest in the world, with members in everything from software engineering and robotics to virtual reality and game development. Members (you have to pay to join or get invited to a chapter) get access to exclusive networking events, discounts on various goods and services, and opportunities to connect with other members in chapters in Silicon Valley, Seoul, and Taiwan.
CSPA (California Software Professional Association)
CSPA is a non-profit organization that helps people build leadership and entrepreneurial skills. It was founded in Silicon Valley in 1988, and the group is open to everyone (though they place special emphasis on Asian demographics). CSPA members discuss emergent trends and the how-tos of doing business in the tech industry (finding funding, strategizing, etc.) in various events and conferences, and they also offer opportunities to connect face-to-face in formal and informal settings.
CSPA events are posted on Meetup.com, so just create an account and sign up to get started.
Hawaiians in Tech
Hawaiians in Tech is one of API Who Design’s many sibling sites — it’s an online directory and community of native Hawaiian technologists. (Fun fact: its co-founder Taylor Ho currently works as a Principal UX Designer for Twitch.) You can get involved through Discord, where you can connect with the community and find events like hackathons and other collaborative opportunities.
SASE (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers)
SASE empowers Asian STEM professionals throughout the U.S. They offer collegiate chapters and employee resource groups that help cultivate community and leadership skills with various networking and skillbuilding events. The organization also has a podcast, The Adult Table, which features more casual conversations around people’s personal and professional lives.
AAASE (Asian American Academy of Science and Engineering)
AAASE helps upskill the next generation of Asian American technologists with mentoring, networking, leadership, and career development initiatives. This organization offers tons of support for high school students, with internship and mentorship opportunities, leadership and entrepreneurship workshops, and awards for participants with innovative projects.