If you haven’t heard the podcast Two Black Nerds, it might be time to start tuning in. The podcast, by Notre Dame graduates and engineers Iheanyi Ekechukwu and Irere Romeo Kwihangana, discusses life after college and working in tech. It touches on everything from the job market to race relations in the workplace to fashion wearables.
Kwihangana, who lives in Dayton, OH, is now an electrical engineer at GE Aviation Systems. Ekechukwu, currently living in Austin,TX, is a Software Engineer at IBM Watson Innovation Labs.
TNJ.com: What prompted you to start the show?
Iheanyi: After we both finished college, Romeo and I wanted to have a project that we could work on together and we figured that a podcast would be the best project for us. We’ve always had good conversations both in person and over the phone, so it only made sense that we do a podcast.
TNJ.com: Has the great response been a surprise?
Iheanyi: Yeah, it really has been. I don’t think we expected it to really blow up like it has, so it definitely was a pleasant surprise and keeps us motivated.
Romeo: I was definitely surprised because we really started the show on a whim. We procrastinated for about seven months before we recorded the first episode. So getting the positive response to the show has been a good motivator to keep on going despite some random hiccups here and there.
TNJ.com: What is the goal of the show?
Iheanyi: Well, it originally started off as a project between Romeo and I to stay in touch, but it has also served as a means of getting our voices heard. The lack of Black individuals in the tech industry is definitely a thing, so I think it helps having our voices out there to say, “Hey, you aren’t alone.”
Romeo: We also felt that being fresh out of college, we had some knowledge and survivals skills to impart as we both graduated with technical degrees.
TNJ.com: What do you think listeners get from the program?
Romeo: I’ve had a couple people congratulate me and give me feedback on the show. One of my best friends mentioned that he feels as if he is listening in on a conversation about tech, something he's not most familiar with, yet can still understand what we are talking about and relate to it.
Iheanyi: Yeah, I agree with Romeo. I think a lot of non-technical people gain insights into the tech industry from our show and additionally, can gain some new insights into the tech industry through episodes such as our Minorities In Tech, which highlight the lack of diversity within the tech industry.
TNJ.com: What are some of the directions you want to take the show?
Iheanyi: Romeo and I have been discussing this and we’re thinking about making more of a focus on quality and topics of interest to the both of us. Whether it’s through interviewing people that we find interesting and want to gain knowledge from or discussing recently read books, we’re definitely going to make the topics more interesting and engaging.
Romeo: The goal is to keep us and the listener really engaged throughout each episode. We’re going to explore multi-part episodes next and see what is possible with that type of format.
TNJ.com: How long do you plan on continuing the show?
Iheanyi: I think we’re hoping to make this happen as long as possible, I don’t see us really stopping anytime soon.
Romeo: I agree. Unless Skype goes out of business, I don’t think we’ll stop recording in the near future.
TNJ.com: What did you study and what was your biggest surprise after college?
Iheanyi: So I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design.
My biggest surprise after college was actually just the adjustment period of having to make friends and meet people, it was pretty easy at University because you were surrounded by people your age. It’s not the same ballgame at work, though.
Romeo: I agree with Iheanyi on that challenge. I graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. When you think about it, after graduating, you enter this phase of life that college may or may not have prepared you to deal with. There is no curriculum, no classes to tell you step-by-step how to navigate the “real world.” Iheanyi already mentioned the social aspect of it. There's also a professional aspect to this: how do you keep the same pace of intellectual growth without the structure of college classes? And that is a hard question to find an answer to regardless of your field of work but a very interesting one to try to answer nevertheless.
TNJ.com: What have been some opportunities that have arisen from the show?
Iheanyi: A lot of interviews, between Romeo and I. I think being interviewed for ModelViewCulture was really, really cool. I also have had people come up to me at tech conferences and say, “Hey! I listen to Two Black Nerds and I really like your podcast!” That’s also been humbling and flattering.