The USC Career Center’s Diversity Networking Mixer was added on Feb. 7 to this year’s Career Fest calendar for the first time, much to the delight of the nearly 200 students and 14 off-campus employers who attended.
“We definitely saw a need from employers who worked with us to recruit diverse students,” said career counselor Esther Lee, who helped plan the mixer. “USC is a university that celebrates diversity, so we thought it was important to collaborate with different student organizations, assemblies and cultural centers to create an event where the employers could present full-time opportunities in a more casual environment.”
Lee suggested the mixer’s attraction has everything to do with the laid-back format of the biannual event, which started in 2008.
“When you create a friendly environment, the students tend to come to these events with more confidence than they might otherwise have in a one-on-one setting,” Lee said. “It makes the screening process easier for employers as well, because they are able to see these students in a more relaxed state.”
Attendees also socialized over a buffet-style dinner provided by Progressive Insurance, one of the event’s sponsors.
“There’s no structure to it at all,” Lee said. “It’s completely free-flowing, without the traditional monotony of meeting employers. Students don’t have to sign in and are encouraged to mingle with as many employers as they like.”
As the rise in attendance by students and employers demonstrated, the casual approach is working.
“We’ve seen a continual commitment from these employers to remain a part of this event,” said Lori Shreve Blake, director of alumni and student services. “They see and appreciate the eagerness of our diverse students and enjoy interacting with them in this type of setting. Everyone left satisfied, and we couldn’t be happier about the momentum going forward.”