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Employer Insights for Navigating the Job Search as an Underrepresented Minority Student

This blog entry is the second of a series addressing specific job search considerations for underrepresented and diverse candidates. We recognize that identities are intersectional and that identity markers do not exist independently of each other, and we offer this information to those who would like to apply it in their job search. Today’s blog is written by Rachel Ligman, Manager – North America University Relations at Eaton.

When it comes to evaluating potential employers on inclusion and diversity, it is important to examine both external brand, and internal culture. The external brand is how they show up when they know you are looking – at a career fair, conference, or company presentation. The internal persona is what is happening to a company, without their control over the brand message.

The external brand around inclusion & diversity:

The National Diversity Conferences (as well as regional conferences) are a great way to meet many diversity-focused employers in one single recruiting event, and to see them at their best from an external branding perspective. You are unlikely to get this level of engagement at a general career fair.

On the career fair floor at conferences, look for the board member companies (usually between 40-60 employers are at this level). It means that the company is investing not only in the conference, but in the partnership with that diversity organization – driving strategic change to help further the mission. It means putting in the work to move the needle for that specific underrepresented minority group. Eaton partners with major National Diversity Organizations, as board members: We are Industry Partner Council members for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (Eaton was also the Visionary Sponsor for the 2018 National Convention in Cleveland, OH); Corporate Partnership Council members with the Society of Women Engineers; and Board of Corporate Affiliates with the National Society of Black Engineers.

Pro tip: come to the conference expecting to interview! Getting to your top employers first will help you to ensure you are getting a prime interview timeslot, leaving you more time to visit other booths on your list. Many employers are also pre-scheduling interviews, so get your resume into the database in advance!

If you can’t make it to the National Conference, don’t worry – employers are spending more time on campus, connecting with the student chapters of diversity organizations. Attend meetings and be sure to network with the professionals who are coming on campus. Consider becoming the Employer Relations Chair or join the committee – you’ll become very well known to the right people.

The internal culture around inclusion & diversity:

Companies may be well-branded, but it is important that individuals at every level understand - and have a voice in - the diversity strategy outlined by their organization. At companies with strong diversity culture, every employee should be able to speak on the subject.

Ask these questions to company representatives (including previous interns or co-ops who might be in class with you today):

  • What does inclusion & diversity mean at your company?
  • Can you give specific examples of how you personally have experienced the positive impact of inclusion & diversity within your job?
  • How does senior leadership discuss inclusion & diversity with employees?

Internally, Eaton strives to create an inclusive environment that engages and supports individuals of all backgrounds. To date, we have launched 8 Inclusion Eaton Resource Groups (iERGs): ENGAGE, early career and next generation; iConnect, Black, African-American and People of Color; #Vamos, Hispanic and Latino; Pride, LGBT and Allies; WAVE, Women; SOAR, Asian American; Veteran’s, Veteran and active Military; enABLE, one of the only inclusion groups today focused on disabilities and special needs (visible & invisible).

What is unique to Eaton is that our resource groups are truly action-oriented. Leaders give our iERGs the runway to make things happen. For example, our ENGAGE team started the Stretch Assignment Marketplace, where employees can sign up to gain experience in functions or areas that are outside of the scope of regular work. WAVE moved our senior leaders to upgrade our parental leave policy, giving more paid time off for all parents.

Bottom line – when you are selecting an employer (whether for your first internship, co-op or full-time job opportunity), diversity culture matters. The company should align with your personal identity and values. Ask yourself, what matters most to me, and seek out employers that fit YOU. At Eaton, we are proud to be recognized as a 2018 Forbes Best Employers for New Graduates. Come learn more at, or at your next Ohio State Career Fair!

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