We held a crash course on how to break into the corporate world for college students from underserved communities. Here were 5 key takeaways.
Earlier this year, we invited a group of college students from NJ SEEDS to visit our NYC headquarters. SEEDS is a rigorous, tuition-free program dedicated to helping students from low-income communities get into elite schools. As a SEEDS alum myself, I can confirm firsthand that the program is an amazing, life-changing opportunity.
We planned out the day’s agenda easily enough. Office tour, employee-led panel, and time for Q&A. We organized a group of Insider Inc. employees, all of whom had previously participated in programs similar to SEEDS early on in their careers, to be our panelists. But deciding on a theme proved a bit trickier. We wanted to make sure the students left with something impactful — tips and tricks that they could put to use as soon as they walked out the door.
We reached out to our panelists and the SEEDS alumni relations development officer to parse through the immediate career needs for these students. It wasn’t long before we settled on a theme: a crash course on how to break into the corporate world.
Why? Simple. Students from underserved communities often lack the everyday environmental advantages that come with growing up in a more privileged community. What might seem like ‘Interviewing 101’ to some may have never been mentioned to others.
Our panelists covered a range of topics, from interview prep and resume writing to corporate etiquette and networking (a skill that is particularly difficult to master when you’re not able to rely on friends and family for connections). Here were five key takeaways.
Do your research before an interview.
Read up on the company beforehand, and avoid asking questions you can find the answers to online. Steer away from questions like:
When was the company founded?
Where are the company headquarters?
What are the job requirements?
Show you’re thinking long-term about a job opportunity.
When interviewing, ask questions that show you’re thinking long-term. This will let the interviewer know you’re interested in finding the right job, and not just any job. Questions to ask:
What can you tell me about the company culture?
What growth opportunities does this position offer?
What can you tell me about the team I’d be working with?
What are the biggest challenges for this role?
What do you love about working here? What don’t you love about working here?
Make networking part of your day-to-day routine.
Networking isn’t as hard as it seems. It doesn’t have to be the schmoozing you see on TV. Your friends, your coworkers, your classmates, and even your little brother’s best friend’s yoga instructor are all potential contacts.
Ask questions and (more importantly) listen to your contacts.
Ask everyone you interact with what they do. Learn about their job. And their interests. Learning what other people do will give you insight into different career paths. Plus, it’ll be easier to follow up and have meaningful interactions down the road.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
People often hesitate to ask for help and worry about bothering the person, coming across as fake, or not having something to offer in return. But there’s nothing wrong with asking for advice or support. Most people are happy to share their experiences and want to help others interested in their field.
From new hires to managers all the way to senior level executives, from New York to San Francisco and all the way across the pond to our counterparts in the London office, Insider Inc. is committed to Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, and plan to host more events like this as we continue to prioritize our efforts across the company.