Microsoft Diversity Efforts Open Doors for Minority Students


Before taking his first tour of Microsoft's corporate headquarters, Jonathan Porter wondered if contemplating a career in IT was a waste of time. He remembers even asking one of his friends if any African-Americans actually work for the software company. He was only half-joking.

From his vantage point, the question was logical. Porter attended Garfield High School in the inner-city of Seattle -- 25 miles west of suburban Redmond. Nobody he knew worked for Microsoft or any of the Puget Sound area's other large technology companies. He didn't even know any African-Americans who had majored in computer science in college.

But now, three years later, the 18-year-old plans to make computer science his college major, and he's got the resume to back him up. He has three summer internships at Microsoft under his belt, and a mentor at Microsoft with first-hand experience at overcoming the challenges of being a racial minority in an industry where minorities have long been underrepresented. Perhaps most telling, Porter can now envision himself some day working full time for Microsoft.

Porter's outlook on Microsoft and the IT industry didn't change by itself. It was nurtured over time by a handful of organizations at Microsoft and in his community that are working to open doors for minority students in the high-tech world. With Microsoft's support and financial backing, these organizations have built a support system that includes everything from college scholarships to providing access to current technology.

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