The SMASH Alumni community consists of over 1,500 underrepresented folks at every level of the STEM academic and career journey. Our alumni have launched companies, developed cutting-edge software, conducted medical research, and worked towards advancing the cure for cancer; among many other achievements.
Every 2 years, we bring the community together for personal & professional enrichment at the Summit. Our first Summit occurred in 2018 at LinkedIn HQ in San Francisco, California. In 2020, the pandemic motivated us to try something new, and shift our second Summit to Zoom. This year, we took it to a whole new (virtual) level.
As an organization that exists to build a strong, diverse, and socially conscious tech workforce, we believed it was imperative to expose our young people to the future of work and technology in a way that was engaging, relevant, and fun.
SETTING THE STAGE
The 2022 SMASH Summit took place in the SMASHVerse, a 3D world custom-built to give our community members a space to connect, learn and grow together. To create the platform, we partnered with Sine Wave Entertainment, a UK-based organization that provides virtual spaces for game developers and creators to interact with each other. In collaboration with their team, we launched the SMASHverse — this opened up new possibilities for the way alumni and friends were able to connect and develop their professional skills.
Over 500 SMASH alumni + friends committed to gathering to discuss the Future of Work and its implications on finance, education, software development, and even personal identity. We were joined by leaders at organizations like Colorstack, Sequin, Marble, RL Foundation, ILMxLAB, Snap Inc., StockX, KaiXR, and more.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Following the event, attendees shared their thoughts on their inaugural experience in the metaverse — “It allowed me to interact with people in a different way instead of experiencing Zoom fatigue. The opportunities that I was able to see in the metaverse were mind-blowing”, wrote one attendee. Another exclaimed, “It was a true surprise to have had an experience with the metaverse already, and I really enjoyed it!”
One key takeaway from our perspective is that creating multiple onboarding opportunities for users to learn how to navigate a new platform is critical. Our audience came from many different walks of life, so we needed to level the playing field prior to launching our big event. Once we implemented these virtual “World Tours”, we found that attendees felt much more comfortable with using the platform.
IT’S YOUR TURN
Are you interested in bringing a metaverse experience to your school or organization? If so, let’s connect — shoot us an email at email@example.com! If you are interested in learning ways you can support our work to break down barriers for underrepresented youth to enter STEM in general, then click here to learn more.