Before recent increased DEI efforts led companies to directly partner with schools, many HBCU students struggled to find job opportunities that aligned with their career goals. It's an experience that Bilal Issifou knows well — after finding himself at an internship he wasn't passionate about, the North Carolina A&T alumnus launched his tech-based start-up Unchained Inc., which has helped hundreds of HBCU students and graduates get jobs and internships at Fortune 500 companies.

Native to Togo, West Africa, Issifou came to the U.S. at age 5. His parents instilled hard work and education in him at an early age, which prompted him to pursue pre-law in undergrad. Being on campus helped him hone in on his networking, communication and interpersonal skills, which Issifou says was "critical to his success as an entrepreneur."