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According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employment in STEM occupations grew at a much more rapid pace than non-STEM occupations over the last decade: 24.4% vs 4%, respectively. STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.9% from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4% growth for non-STEM occupations.

Shaon Berry, the CEO of Metro Esports, is well-aware of these trend lines and is using his company to bridge the gap for students looking to understand the importance STEM education will play in their futures.

Metro Esports is a digital, social, mobile, and live-event management agency and LAN gaming/training center, headquartered just outside Philadelphia. Known for innovative production, creative thinking, and inclusive market-driven strategies, Metro Esports engages a broad and diverse audience of technology and gaming enthusiasts.

In an effort to create safe, alternative solutions for leagues to compete amid coronavirus, NFL FLAG recently held its first-ever Madden NFL 20 Tournament, powered by Metro Esports. The three-day event, which started Friday, June 5, allowed for a new and innovative way to engage leagues and maintain the sense of competition absent from so many youth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Berry about STEM, creating avenues of STEM influence for our youth, and the advice he has for young black youth interested in pursuing a career in gaming.

BE: COVID-19 has had an impact in all areas of our lives. Why is this e-sports initiative important for our youth? 

Berry: Oftentimes, young people that start out with a passion for video games turn that interest into tech-based education and professional careers in STEM. Coders, programmers, game designers, and software engineers shape the future of technology and offer tremendous earning opportunities.

What long-term impact do you hope to have with the NFL FLAG partnership?

Our collective goal is to provide competition and team alternatives to students who show a greater interest and aptitude for gaming and technology. Over the course of time we hope to become a recruiting funnel for local, regional, and national colleges and universities searching for e-sports team players or tech-study candidates.

This is bigger than gaming. This is STEM. How can we influence our youth to become game developers and creators, not just players?

This all about making information and resources available to curious young minds. Some people like to play the games, others like to build the games. Our chief aim is to offer something for every particular interest.

What are three key pieces of advice for young men and women of color interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry? 

1. Ask lots of questions.

Curiosity as to how something works, how something is made, or what new can be created, fuels the passions behind new tech.

2. Reach out.

Don’t wait for someone to come find you. Companies are eager to build a diverse pipeline of talent, and your next opportunity could be just a phone call, email, or tweet away.

3. Compete:

STEM is a sport in many ways. Take part in hack-a-thons, gaming tournaments, e-sports leagues, and science fairs. These experiences will give you an opportunity to set yourself apart amongst the others.

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