Conference attendees started the day at the Intercontinental Hotel with a breakfast featuring several keynote speakers. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter welcomed attendees to the city of St. Paul and shared the strides the city is making to provide access for all citizens, in particular, access to information. He highlighted the example of the city’s efforts to forgive over $2.5 million in library fees in order to encourage families that have stayed away from the library due to overdue fees to return to the libraries and the access to information that libraries provide.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar also welcomed conference attendees to the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota and revered them, remarking “by doing this work you are leaders”.

Both Mayor Carter and Senator Klobuchar shared their excitement for the growth and future of technology businesses in the Twin Cities, and the state of Minnesota.

Keynote speaker Saron Yitbarek, founder of CodeNewbie shared a presentation titled “The Magical Living Room: How to Build Authentic and Engaged Communities”. Saron discussed her journey as a developer and how that led her to create CodeNewbie, the CodeNewbie podcast, the Base.cs podcast, and the Codeland conference. She emphasized four tenants that have helped her along the way: “Understand, build, listen, and iterate”.

The morning keynote was closed out by Founder, Extended Reality Architect, and Tech Hub Builder Chris Lafayette. Chris passionately discussed the need to funnel underrepresented talent into silicon valley. “We have an opportunity now where we can build our future”. He explained how black technologists need to pursue and seize opportunities in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR); telepresence; and robotics. He stated, “This isn’t the Jetsons, this is happening now. For those that are working to build the future, I’m here to help”. He also encouraged attendees to take time to build together.

During the day, attendees participated in the Tech Exhibit & Career Fair. More than 50 companies and organizations were on hand to recruit for positions across the US. Workshops and panels were also held to help participants learn how to navigate their careers in tech.

Sessions included:

  • Technology Trends You Should Know
  • Crushing A Technical Interview
  • Reaching Destination Success in Your Career
  • Teach the Geek to Speak
  • Build Your Career Brand

At the close of the daytime event, conference attendees convened at the Science Museum of St. Paul for three events collectively billed as “A Night at the Museum”. The first event was a speed networking event with ERGs from top companies in the country including Google, Amazon, Wells Fargo and more. The event was hosted by and sponsored by Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services, and solutions.

Following the speed networking event, attendees participated in a panel discussion, “Utilizing Tech as a Platform to Enhance your Media Brand.” The panel was moderated by Twila Dang, Co-Executive Producer at New Signal Studios, a division of American Public Media. Panelists included:

  • Shema Kalisa, Associate Project Manager, Buzzfeed Media Brands
  • Alexis Rice, Strategic Partner Manager, YouTube
  • Kim Crayton, Entrepreneur, Kim Crayton LLC
  • Nipsey Hussle, Entrepreneur and Entertainer
The panelists discussed their trials and tribulations with working through a variety of technologies and how they applied it to brands for personal and professional projects. Rapper Nipsey Hussle also explained how technology has changed the way artists brand themselves and the way that streaming music, after the demise of the digital download, has pushed artists to be more creative in their efforts to win and keep audiences.

Following the panel, conference attendees wound down the day at “Networking After Hours” with food, beverages, music, and dancing among the exhibits of the Science Museum.