Ian Mwalago ’22 entered UMassD knowing his dream of landing a job with a large tech company would require more than textbook smarts. Sometimes, being prepared to enter the real world requires supplementing classroom experience with practical experience. And, finding support through mentors who want to ensure students gain a return on their college investment.
As a third-year student, Ian encountered a staff member whom he credits with helping him navigate the journey toward eventually entering the field of technology. His mentor is Black History 4 Seasons Co-Chair Peggy Dias and she is the Executive Director of IT Service Assurance, for the IT department at UMassD. “Mrs. Dias is a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Ian says. Mrs. Dias is the campus lead along with Dr. LaSella Hall (Associate Director of the Frederick Douglass Unity House) of Dell’s strategic initiative “Changing the Face of Tech, a collaboration that began in 2018 when Dias spearheaded Dell’s interest in recruiting young professionals of color to help them achieve their mission of bringing diversity and inclusion to the tech industry.
Dell "Changing the Face of Tech STEM Leadership Experience"
As a participant in the Dell Changing the Face of Tech STEM Leadership Experience two-day workshop this spring, Ian delved into exercises related to design thinking, data science, software programs such as Tableau, job shadowing, and storytelling techniques. Along with his peers, he worked on a business case study presentation where each small group presentation was evaluated by a panel of Dell senior executives. “It was an engaging experience that required Ian to leave his comfort zone.
“Being able to present the case study with my group members to a panel of Dell executives was a life-changing experience. It was very challenging, yet I learned about the power of perception, how to develop a personal brand, and how to navigate corporate opportunities,” he says. “I’ve enhanced my professional network and gained valuable experiences that I can apply with me wherever I go.” This summer, he will work as a Data Analyst intern for the License Management Services within Dell Technologies.
Community leader and advocate
He is also involved in student organizations. “As a Senator for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), I have developed into a professional,” Ian says. “I feel confident when I walk into an interview, job fair, or networking event because I’ve learned the tools needed to succeed through being a part of this organization. NSBE has opened countless doors, enabled me to build the network I have now, and empowered me to help others benefit from the organization.
This spring, Ian became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, the first black intercollegiate fraternity founded in 1906. “Our mission is to develop leaders and promote brotherhood and academic excellence while providing service and advocacy for our communities,” he says. “As a member of the fraternity, I hope to facilitate educational events that will enhance the college experience for many students at UMassD.”
As for his mentor, he says “Mrs. Dias’ continued advocacy and support of students of color is something that I want to be able to replicate to the rest of my peers.” And, he is doing just that as a resident assistant at the university. “As a resident assistant, I help facilitate the social, academic, and personal adjustment of students to the residence hall and university through creating social, academic, and civic engagement programs for students to actively engage and learn,” Ian says. “My biggest takeaway from this role is being able to build relationships with countless residents and assist them in their personal as well as academic lives.”