Arcadia held its annual Internship & Career Fair on March 27, but for the first time, it also featured a Diversity & Inclusion Networking Reception. Employers at the fair—ranging from Bayada Home Health Care to Greater Philadelphia YMCA—clearly prided themselves on seeking diversity and creating inclusive work spaces for all kinds of people. They participated in the fair to enforce the notion that every person is important, no matter skin color, disability, or sexual orientation.
I helped students sign in, made name tags, and took pictures. The room was open—everyone was open. We gave students buttons with different phrases on them to spark conversation between aspiring employees and employers. The buttons said things like: “LGBTQ+ Ally,” “I love science,” and “Ask me about my thesis…” Attendees came prepared with things to talk about, breaking the ice and the anxiety. They felt included and wanted, and that’s the kind of environment we need to continue to make here at Arcadia.
I also had the opportunity to talk to employers and students about their experiences, what they loved, and what could be improved. Most students applauded the effort it took to arrange the event, saying that they enjoyed the opportunity to talk to different employers in a more intimate setting. Other students shared ways we could make it even more inclusive, such as including lower chairs and tables for those with disabilities and moving the location to a more open space so employers and students could roam more freely while they networked. No event is perfect, and with this being the first time the Office of Career Education had ever run this event, all suggestions to make it even better is what we strive for.
Given the months of planning and the work setting up, it was pretty cool to see the final result, with a little over 100 diverse students and employers attending. Employers were seeking all majors and also welcomed those undecided.
We plan to have this event again next year with more employers and take in suggestions from students. They’re who it’s really for.