How To Improve Diversity in Tech At The College Level
I would argue that ‘diversity in tech’ is the most discussed topic within the tech industry (if we are not counting when the tech bubble will pop of course). Articles discussing diversity pipelines, company’s diversity percentages, and the newest “director of diversity” infiltrate our timeline every day. As the jobs available in the tech industry continue to soar it is imperative, that those roles are filled people of a diverse background. The benefits of a diverse workforce are no secret. Multiple perspectives, more feedback that is indicative of the general population, and a greater chance at cultural insensitivity being pointed out are just some of the many benefits. As a current college student obsessed with tech, I decided to share some actionable solutions that are cost efficient and easily implement whether you are recruiting for a startup or major corporation.
“Students can not be what they can not see.”
As tech companies proclaim that they struggle to find talent, many fail to realize the importance of awareness. A company’s awareness directly correlates with the amount and quality of interested applicants for various jobs and internships. Many companies confuse consumer awareness with employment awareness. Just because college students may use your product as a consumer does not mean they have any clue about why they would want to work on said product as an employee. Students need to be aware of a companies mission, culture, and roles to determine whether they align with what they are looking for in an employer.
Here are things recruiters can do NOW
Once a week or once a month invite college students to your office and have a one on one conversation with an entry-level employee at your company. Discuss their current role, background, how they got their position, and their day-to-day responsibilities.
- Reveal actionable pieces of advice for college students. (Amount of internships completed, relationships formed, what the employee did that set them apart and ultimately led to them getting a job offer).
- Allow students to ask questions not just in person but also through social media.
- Stream the talk live on Periscope or Facebook live and make sure to archive it.
- Be transparent about the competitiveness of the role and timeline for hiring.
- Have a panel. (Make sure to keep it a one on one!)
- Dominate the conversation makes sure you leave time for questions and take notes about what students are most concerned/confused about as it comes to employment within your company.
- Have the one on one with a senior level executive. Students need to be exposed to entry-level jobs that are attainable after graduation.
Bring your one on one conversation to where college students live, the classroom. Connect with a college professor teaching in the area of the employee that will be joining you for the one on one (marketing, finance, graphic design, etc.) It is a win-win for the professor, your company, and the student.
- Go to a variety of schools tier one to community college. (There are gems everywhere!)
- Pick a higher level class these classes are mostly juniors and seniors so the information is more relevant to them.
- Encourage students to do something pro-active to show their interest in your organization. This can include attending office hours or applying for your mentorship program (more on this below).
- Visit classrooms close to midterm, finals, or major vacations.
- Be hard to access, make sure you leave students with information so they can follow up.
- Have a lack of transparency.
A semester-to-semester mentorship program where you pair qualified and interested students with employees at your company.
- Establish the purpose for the student and your company. (Is this program a pipeline for interns/entry level employees, get feedback on your product from a certain demographic, etc.)
- Provide flexibility. Put together a schedule of a couple of events or programs for mentors and mentees but let them develop their relationship.
- Make it too much of a time commitment. The employees at your company will not want to participate, and students will feel like they might not be able to make the time commitment.
- Have to many planned events. Let mentors and mentees develop an organic relationship on their own time.
Whatever your company decides to do remember it is all about creating awareness of your company’s culture, mission, and open roles.
Tweet me @pluckedceo to continue the conversation!