Academic-Industry Career Events: Lessons Learned and Takeaways from a Successful DE&I Event
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is becoming a centerpiece of many professional and academic organizations that are now positioning DE&I focused events in front of students. DE&I events are an important aspect to education and can change the trajectory of students through commonalities and discussions centered around academic and professional hurdles and success stories. I want to share a successful DE&I event that I co-organized at the University of California, Los Angeles. The purpose of my presentation is to share the event structure and to provide a case-example of how DE&I events can be incorporated into educational programs to aide student recruitment, empower student careers, to diffuse diversity into our work force, and enhance student interest in the applied geosciences.
This DE&I event convened seven panelists from diverse ethnic, academic, and professional backgrounds and 16 students in March 2022. The half-day event was targeted at DE&I student groups (though not exclusively) and included panel discussions, group-focused interview exercises, and one-on-one mock interviews. Panel discussions included a moderated discussion, Q&A, and an open mic for students to share their journey through their education and seek answers to not-often-discussed questions about what careers are like outside of academia. The crown jewel of the event were mock interviews and group-focused interview exercises. These activities allowed one-on-one time with students and industry professionals, which according to one student, was "exactly what I was looking for and tremendously increased my understanding of the environmental industry." Events like this are career launchers! I want to present on the lessons learned and takeaways from this DE&I event that is being considered as a template for professional groups across California to branch the academic-industry gap and increase diversity in our workforce.