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Photo provided via Ohio University's website.

Diversity First Showcase encourages students, employers to prioritize identity in workplaces

In an effort to build networking through the appreciation of diversity in the workplace, the Diversity First Showcase will be held virtually on Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. sponsored by Ohio University’s Career Network and Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

For some students, thinking about acclimating to a new workplace provokes fear because they feel like they cannot be their most authentic selves, Tamika Williams, assistant director for career and diversity, equity and inclusion, said. In hopes to help ease this fear, Williams said the showcase is aimed to really emphasize that students have these identities for a reason and should only seek to work in places that will embrace them for that identity.

“(Identities) need to be addressed at the forefront of the recruitment process instead of once you have the job, figuring out that, ‘Oh they're not inclusive of pronouns’ or, ‘Oh they can't give me a special monitor’ or, ‘Oh they don't have ramps,’” Williams said. “It puts it at the forefront so it really allows students to see what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like internally for a company.”

The event will host a plethora of employers that students will have the opportunity to speak and engage with. Williams said she will provide students with questions that she believes will help students be more direct and help build relationships with a potential future employer. The employers will be responsible for acknowledging identities and self-identification rather than the students’ majors.

The employers vary from year to year, and although the employers may not be an exact fit for a student’s future career, it can help guide them in the right direction. Students can learn about what they need to ask future employers and what they need to search for in a future workplace. 

“It’s all a learning experience, even if it doesn’t lead to a direct employment line,” Williams said. “It is equipping you with knowledge, so now when you're in an interview, you're not making a decision on being desperate for a job. You're making a decision based on, ‘This is good for me.’”

Many students, like Re’Aija Grice, a junior studying exercise physiology, have benefitted from the event, finding that it has been a useful way to learn more about how diversity should be of utmost importance in a workplace. Grice said the event is also an opportunity to build leadership skills and for students to gain exposure to doing interviews virtually.

“It also provides a gateway for multicultural students to get their name out there, to market, to win money and really just present themselves in a positive light and do whatever they can to be successful in the end,” Grice said. 

The event will have an award ceremony, giving out scholarships to those who applied. Grice said the application process was super simple: it involved attending an informational session regarding the event and awards, uploading a resume to Handshake and scheduling a 30-minute interview.

Grice believes it is important for there to be awards and scholarships based on qualities other than GPA and academic excellence. She highlighted that the money is at the recipient’s own free use and can be used to pay for necessities like food, rent, hygiene products or university tuition. 

“I would say that if you are a student who is adamant about putting yourself out there and taking advantage of an opportunity like this, I would definitely say just give it a try,” Grice said.

The event has been geared to help students grow professionally and grow for themselves. Williams said it’s an opportunity to learn real life skills.

“I hope to see it continue and maybe even expand to an on-campus type of thing in the future, just seeing the impact that it has,” Williams said.


Kayla Bennett

Managing Editor

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