The pandemic led her to switch careers. Now, an up-and-coming UX researcher has brought Blacks in Technology LLC to Omaha

A frequently misquoted maxim by F. Scott Fitzgerald claims there are no second acts in American lives. And while it turns out the late Great Gatsby author actually meant the opposite of that, the line nevertheless entered pop culture. Whether Omaha-based UX researcher Carleá Jean Magee’s recent mid-career shift to technology counts as a second…

Photo courtesy Blacks in Technology LLC
Photo courtesy Blacks in Technology LLC

A frequently misquoted maxim by F. Scott Fitzgerald claims there are no second acts in American lives. And while it turns out the late Great Gatsby author actually meant the opposite of that, the line nevertheless entered pop culture.

Whether Omaha-based UX researcher Carleá Jean Magee’s recent mid-career shift to technology counts as a second act is irrelevant. But still, whenever someone makes a huge positive change to their lives that simultaneously benefits the entire community—as Magee has done—it’s worth noting.

Though she began her career as a psychologist and a researcher, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made her realize she wanted to learn more about technology. So, with the world plunged into turmoil, Magee signed up for a User Experience Design class and began investing every spare moment into learning the nuts and bolts of UX. Then, she discovered a UX Research course that piqued her curiosity. To her surprise, the course allowed her to synthesize her existing skillset with her newly developed tech knowledge. 

Now, barely a year after logging into her first IT class, Magee has landed a UX research internship at Buildertrend, a construction project management software company based in Omaha. At the same time, she has also launched the Omaha chapter of Blacks in Technology LLC, a global platform focused on increasing the Black IT workforce and helping Black tech professionals advance in their careers through training, networking and mentorship. 

Funded by the Blacks in Technology Foundation, the organization operates in 45 cities worldwide, and with its June 30 launch, the Omaha chapter became the most recent member to join. 

Magee has already hit the ground running. 

This week, the organization sponsored a weeklong “game jam” in which players compete against each other by building their own video games from scratch. Partners in the competition included the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the UNO Criss Library Creative Production Lab, and BFF Omaha, a North Omaha-based advocacy organization that supports the arts and community through events like First Friday art crawls, youth engagement programming, public art projects and volunteerism.  

“(The game jam) is a great way to get kids involved in tech,” Magee said.

In addition to promoting the value of a tech career, the Omaha chapter aims to break old stereotypes about working in the tech sector and to spread the message that anyone who wants to become a tech professional can become one. 

“(Working in technology) does not take a certain person—anyone can do it—but it does take a lot of work,” Magee said.

Granted, tech can be a grind, she admitted. But it’s her grind, and better yet, it’s her dream—one she said she never would have suspected before last year’s global upheaval.

“(UX research) is like someone threw all my interests in a bag, shook it up and made this fake career,” she laughed.

But the good news is, the career is real. And now, by bringing the Blacks in Technology platform to Omaha, Magee is helping others in the community achieve that same satisfaction.  

“I’m having a great time,” she said. “I love what I do.”

Membership in the Omaha chapter of Blacks in Technology is free and open to allies of all races. Visit this page for more information and registration details.

 

 

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