“You have 30 seconds to tell who you are, what you’re passionate about, and why this area of work interests you.” That was the charge given by Jason Archer, Managing Director from Accenture, in one of three mini-workshops at a recent Washington MESA Career Readiness Networking Event.
Washington MESA is a statewide organization housed in the University of Washington, Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity that builds pathways to college and careers for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. It develops programming and initiatives that focus on supporting traditionally underrepresented students in these fields, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and women.
This particular event, held at the UW’s Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, was designed to help MESA students put their best foot forward in the pursuit of internships and employment in STEM fields. Over 60 community college and university students, as well as 18 industry partners, were in attendance.
At the event –which included dinner and networking– industry representatives from Accenture (event co-sponsor), Boeing, Google, Microsoft, and Weyerhaeuser led students through three highly interactive workshops: Delivering an Elevator Pitch, Resume Best Practices, and Interview Strategies. Students loved the activities which allowed them to develop a skill set to market the STEM skills they’ve attained through their studies. “This was a great opportunity for all of us, please hold events like these in the future!” voiced a student participant.
Jarman Hauser, Accenture, Cloud Computing Engineer was the industry partner driving force behind this event. He designed the mini workshops and served as the main facilitator. “As one of the key stakeholders in the career readiness pipeline, Industries play a critical role in preparing students for STEM careers,” reflected Jarman. “Industries should be more connected to opportunities and initiatives that aim to develop local talent. There is a real lack of diversity in the workplace across the board but even more so in STEM – that’s why events like this are so impactful. Industries need to get more involved and make serious commitments to these types of efforts if we want to see real change which will ultimately add greater value at the end of the day.”
In addition to the mini-workshops with students and industry partners, representatives from the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (WSCTC) and from the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) shared timely and useful information about current internship opportunities available to community college and university students.
“The Career Readiness and Networking Event was a valuable and relevant resource for the students. Although not currently recognized as a core educational experience, it’s clear that career readiness is an important bridge to future employment that students may or may not cross,” stated James Dorsey, Washington MESA Executive Director and one of the event organizers.
“The structure of the event established a comfortable atmosphere which allowed students to practice and refine their networking skills in a low-stakes environment while meaningfully engaging the professionals in their own area of expertise.” reflected Lee Lambert, Washington STEM Network Director STEM on his experience at the event. “The MESA Career Readiness workshop is a great model for future events.” The project partners are eager to explore what and how we can leverage and scale this event for more college level students across the state as well as explore how an event like this could be offered to High School students.
Ready, set, go, now what’s your 30 second elevator pitch?