By Leslie Findling & Pete Bridge

In May, we took a trip to the West Coast to attend the 2019 URx Conference: Better Together, which connected career services teams with university recruiters from the tech and engineering space. The theme for this year’s conference was Diversity and Inclusion and we sat in on presentations and met with employers to discuss ways in which this was showing up in the recruiting process as well as in the workplace.  We learned about what employers are looking for in entry-level and internship candidates and how you can stand out in the process. 

During the trip, Leslie was also able to connect with several leaders in the tech and healthcare space to learn more about the industry is expanding and types of candidates they target. Check out what we learned!

Diversity & inclusion: What Does this Really Mean? 

Many companies are looking to diversify their workforce, but what does this mean in the recruitment process and how do you know if they “practice what they preach” inside the organization? 

Understand what the company means by diversity — is it gender? ethnicity? experience? - once you join an organization, how do they support diverse employees? Does the organization have affinity groups? Or do they partner with local communities on specific initiatives? For example, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, launched an apprenticeship program focused on hiring local talent through boot camps. This brought about diversity in experience as many of these candidates had had various backgrounds, not necessarily in traditional coding roles, and diversity of thought. Twitch, a leader in the gaming community, implemented cross race conversations for all employees, in order to understand various perspectives and backgrounds. 

Think of the recruiting process as a place where YOU are also interviewing the company and finding out if they are the right fit for you. 

Telling your story- They Want to Know About Your Relevant Interests and Skills

Hiring managers and recruiters want to learn about YOU, don’t be afraid to talk about your interests and how they relate to the job or company you’re applying to. Use your experience to talk about your transferable skills for the role. For example, maybe you’ve worked at a coffee shop through college, you can highlight your experience working in customer service or be specific about a challenging customer you encountered and how you overcame this. 

In meeting with Flexport, (a technology company working to improve supply chain) and One Medical (a healthcare startup), they discussed how you can emphasize your transferrable skills and what makes someone successful in working at these companies. 

engagement with employers- They Can’t Wait to meet You

Engage early! It’s never too early to connect with employers and alumni — use this as an opportunity to explore various organizations: large, small and in between; technically focused, marketing companies and more! 

Some companies are even creating unique externship programs to give you access to their organizations for a short period of time. For example, Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans has a program specifically for Ivy League students to come to their offices in Detroit for one week in January. These programs can be a “win-win”: you, the student, get to learn much more about an industry, company, and even specific jobs that can help you decide on a major or even a career. The company gets the chance to engage early with students and possibly even offer them internships at the end of the experience!

Insider Info: Get Behind the Scenes with Employers

Check out Insider Info to stay informed about how we’re connecting with employers.