IST student networking event focuses on diversity and inclusion

Students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology had the opportunity to network with representatives from a number of corporations and discuss opportunities for underrepresented populations at the college's inaugural diversity engagement reception, held Sept. 11, 2019, at the Graduate Hotel. Credit: Jessica Hallman / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the College of Information Sciences and Technology hosted an inaugural diversity engagement reception at the Graduate Hotel in State College. Students from underrepresented backgrounds were invited to network with representatives from a variety of companies, allowing them to make professional connections in a more personal setting.

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 83% of tech executives are white. The College of IST aims to provide underrepresented students with access to companies that have experience with diverse populations. This allows students to ask questions and gain advice to advance their careers, which may be more difficult at a larger career fair.

“One of the things I am really proud of is the collaboration that our office of inclusion and diversity engagement has with offices like career solutions and the advising team,” said Jason Gines, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion for the College of IST. “We have been very intentional about putting together programming that infuses diversity themes. With that, this event is the first of its kind in the 20-year history of the college.”

Students had the chance to meet with representatives from the 11 companies that attended the event. Each company recognized the importance of diversity in their industry and the impact it can have on innovative solutions.

“In IT, we’re always on the hunt to solve extremely difficult problems,” said Chris Randle, representing PPL Services Corporation. “If everybody looks the same, thinks the same, and is from the same area, we most likely are not going to be able to think through how to solve that problem. For myself as a leader, I appreciate having a team that can bring different mindsets to the table.”

The two-hour event allowed students to connect with recruiters in advance of the the college’s Pro Expo fall career fair. Vishuka Mathur, a junior in information sciences and technology, was among those in attendance.

“I think events like this are far better because they’re more immersive in terms of not just the representatives, but also our peers,” said Mathur.

When asked about the importance of diversity in the field, Mathur said, “Women are just as capable of pursuing this field and thriving as much as men are. It’s not a competition. It’s not a gender game. Technology has no gender. It’s not just about gender, but race and ethnicity. All of these factors merge into one when you’re working with technology.”

Danny Matulula graduated from the College of IST in May and returned to the event as a KPMG recruiter. If he could give one piece of advice to the students in attendance it would be to "be persistent."

“If they don’t take you the first time, just keep at it,” Matulula said. “Companies like consistency. They like persistence.”

College of IST Diversity Luncheons

To continue with this initiative, the College of IST will host a series of Diversity Luncheons in the coming months, where students can meet with representatives from organizations looking to hire candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Luncheons will be located in from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in E101 Westgate Building on the following dates:

  •  Oct. 16 — Google
  •  Nov. 20 — PNC
  •  Feb. 19 — Capital One
  •  March 18 — Textron
  •  April 15 — Liberty Mutual

The college’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity is also partnering with the Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement to place a thematic emphasis on diversity and inclusion at a number of professional development events at the College of IST this fall.

Last Updated September 03, 2020