Students of color, the LGBTQ community and female students convened in Reeve Union Ballroom April 2 to hone their networking skills with professionals at Creating Connections: Empowering through Networking, a Social Justice Week event hosted by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Career Services.
Representatives from 16 different employers, including Yahoo, Target and Northwestern Mutual, met with students to network and provide feedback about their professional communication skills. The evening, which welcomed students from underrepresented communities, opened with a round of three guest speeches by UW Oshkosh graduates and three rounds of networking, allowing students to connect with representatives from multiple companies.
Creating Connections was sponsored this year by Goodwill, Aerotek, Sherwin-Williams, Yahoo and Target, all of which had representatives at the event.
Marketing and communications manager at Career Services, Angela Victor, said this is the third year the University has hosted the event, with roughly 100 students who registered.
Victor said the event is an opportunity for students to learn how to properly introduce themselves in the professional world and receive an evaluation from experienced business representatives.
One of these representatives was UW Oshkosh alumna Christina Stelter ’05, who works at Baker Tilly, a public accounting firm. Stelter said the event allows female and minority students to “get past the initial barrier” of introducing themselves into a predominantely male industry.
“We do have opportunities, and they don’t need to be afraid to talk to us,” she said.
Diversity and Inclusion intern, Ashley Leonardelli, helped plan the event by setting agendas, creating materials and forming partnerships with other University offices to help structure the event. She also gave a speech to the Oshkosh Student Association to market the event to students.
Leonardelli, a senior psychology major with minors in Spanish and social justice, said her position allows her to act on issues she is passionate about.
“My passion is human empowerment, especially of those who face additional barriers to success due to prejudice and discrimination,” she said.
Leonardelli said Creating Connections works to provide opportunities to students who may face this discrimination and is a step toward “leveling the playing field” for leadership opportunities in the professional world.
“This event is very important because it provides a customized opportunity for students who traditionally have very few, if any,” she said. “Although it is not as overt anymore, prejudice and discrimination against students who identify with any one of these groups is still prevalent in the workforce… This event gives students the opportunity to practice networking and marketing their unique knowledge and skills.”