As a person of color, someone differently-abled, a woman, a veteran, an indigenous person - your background has given you a set of experiences and a perspective that can benefit any organization! Reflect on how your point of view could benefit an employer and highlight those benefits when applying for a job or internship.
Here are some examples of how you might discuss your identity in the job or internship search process:
Resume: Highlight academic and professional diversity-related connections you have (for example, being a member of a minority professional organization or a diversity-related club)
Cover letter: Consider expressing your interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion and making it front and center, if it is something you are prioritizing in employers
Interview: Ask your interviewer about the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion or explain your desire to work for an organization that values equity and inclusion
To find out if an employer has created an inclusive work environment, consider some of these tips:
Is the organization on Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 or other national lists for their diversity policies and programs? What are the criteria for making the list?
Can you find a diversity, equity & inclusion philosophy or policy on their website? Remember to look for signs that organizations value both diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups.
Are there any programs or resources for employees focused around issues of concern or for specific groups? For example, Marriott’s Diversity and Inclusion Councils.
What do others (e.g. peers, alumni, current employees) say about the organizational culture? Keep in mind that every opinion, good or bad, may come with some amount of bias. See below for tips on how to find and connect with people at organizations you’re interested in. See company reviews on Glassdoor.com
Connect to Alumni and Other Professionals
People who identify similarly to you are very likely already doing the jobs you want to do, for the companies you want to work for. They have gone through what you are now about to go through, and have accumulated wisdom about what it takes to thrive in the professional world. You can learn from the experience of those who have come before. But how do you find them? And when you do find them, how do you connect with them?
Start by asking friends, family members, professors, and classmates if they know people they can connect you with. And don’t be afraid to reach out to people you find through Sonoma State connections and social media, even if you haven’t met before! Check out MangoConnects for advice on networking and communication that you can adapt when contacting potential connections.
Alumni: You can connect with Sonoma State alumni through LinkedIn.
Professional Associations and Affinity Groups: Most professional associations offer student memberships at a discount, and memberships usually come with access to programs such as speaker events, or job fairs. You can search for professional associations using the Directory of Associations. Some are specific to certain cultural groups while others will have diversity divisions. Employers may also organize affinity groups for their employees in order to provide a space for business and social inclusion.
Mentoring: If you form a strong connection with someone, such as an alumna or other professional, you may consider asking her to be your mentor. Read these tips on choosing a mentor.
How to Handle Workplace Discrimination
Workforce discrimination occurs in many different ways. There are federal laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, and age. Employers are responsible for complying with the law, but you are responsible for making sure you know and protect your rights.
Did you know that it is against the law for employers to ask you certain questions in a job interview? To learn more about what topics are off-limits and what to do if you are asked about them, see “Handling Improper Interview Questions” from Middlebury College
If you experience discrimination once you have started a job, here are some tips and information about dealing with employment discrimination.
Follow the links below for specific resources:
General Resources for Underrepresented Students
African-American and Black Students
Asian-American, South/East Asian, and Pacific-Islander Students
Indigenous and Native American Students
Undocumented and DACA Students
Students with Disabilities