CCE and Students of Color

Students and alumni of color can experience unique considerations during the job and internship search and in the workplace. This may include being the only person of color (POC) on a work team, finding mentors, and figuring out how to connect with diversity pipelines in their fields of interest.

We are committed to supporting you with:

  • one-on-one career counseling appointments
  • curated resources for navigating the workplace
  • networking events and panels where you can connect with other POC in the workplace

This page offers guidance and resources to help you manage your career exploration as a POC.

Career and Job Search Considerations

 UNique Career Considerations and ASSETS for a Person of Color 

As a POC and potential employee, your identities bring unique assets and strengths into the workplace. Consider the qualities or skills you’ve developed from challenges that you’ve overcome or nuanced understanding you’ve gained by nature of your identity. We (CCE career counselors) will work individually with you to help you unpack, identify, and explore your career interests, values, and goals. 

Some unique concerns that students and alumni of color have conveyed include:

  • how to deal with unconscious bias and stereotyping (implicit bias) throughout their career journey
  • expectations with respect to hair and presentation at work
  • being the only or one of a few person(s) of color
  • shifting the language you use or the way you express yourself in your conversations (codeswitching)

Questions To Help You navigate your career and job search

  • What do you want to do for your career?
  • What interests and skills can you contribute to a workplace?
  • What interested or skills would you or do you want to develop?
  • Who do you want around you?
  • Where do you want to be in the world?
  • How does your family or community impact the process?

Getting Started: Career Exploration Steps and Resources

Use our industry exploration pages and talk to professionals working in your field of interest. The “Explore” section of CCE’s Design Your Next Steps guide contains short assessments to start your career exploration. These activities will help you think about your:

  • skills
  • interests
  • personality traits
  • values
  • career-related likes/dislikes

The 6 stages to the job and internship search is a helpful tool to ground your career journey.

Evaluating Employer Culture and Fit

Assess the Culture/Fit of your Target Organization 

The job and internship search is often thought of as being one way; employers evaluate you and your skills for a position at their company. However, it is just as important for you, as a potential employee of an organization, to evaluate the culture and fit of the organization. 

When it comes to the workplace, culture refers to the character of an organization, which is the sum of its values, traditions, interactions, and beliefs. The culture of an organization is as important as the product or services being offered. It speaks to the organization’s retention, engagement, performance, and levels of employee satisfaction in the workplace.

As you start to explore your fields of interest, take time to research the company culture by visiting the company website and conduct informational interviews with professionals working in your field of interest.

Aspects of Culture/Fit To Consider When Evaluating An Organization 

Leadership/Management:

  • Who is in leadership and management positions within an organization and what are the values they espouse?

Mission/Vision:

  • Is the mission/vision of a company/organization in line with your work values?
  • How clearly is the mission/vision reflected and communicated throughout the organization?

Workplace Policies:

  • What are the organization/company’s workplace policies, including dress code, code of conduct, wellness, and compensation? Look at company website to see how POC are represented.

Workplace Practices:

  • What are recruiting and selection practices?
  • Are there diversity pipeline programs?
  • What are the practices in place for promotion/advancement?
  • What are the workplace traditions?

People:

  • Is the staff diverse?
  • Are there mentorship programs or affinity groups and how active are they?
  • How can you talk to someone about what the day-to-day is like in the office?
  • How do employees interact with each other?
  • How do managers/supervisors interact with employees?

Communications:

  • What does communication look and sound like?
  • How is information communicated?
  • What expectations are explicit?
  • How much transparency is there in communications?
  • Who are the decision makers and how do they communicate how and why decisions are made?

Columbia University POC Resources

These resources can be of use as you build your support system at Columbia:

Additional Career Resources

These job board platforms are designed specifically for people of color:

Resources

In the Know