Success in Color

As students arrived to the brunch, they checked in and received a nametag. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

As students arrived to the brunch, they checked in and received a nametag. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

University of Maryland students networked over brunch the morning of Feb. 23 in Stamp’s Colony Ballroom with employers from a variety of industries.

In its third year, the Brunch for Success, hosted by the Student Success Leadership Council and the University of Maryland Career Center, gives students the chance to have in-depth conversations with employers that will create long-lasting impressions.

“The idea came from a student who was frustrated standing in a line of 40, 50 people, with only 30 seconds to sell themselves,” said Tony Randall, senior manager for Maryland’s Student Success Initiative, and advisor to SSLC.

The Brunch for Success aims to level the playing field for students of color who may not have the same access to opportunity to meet with these employers as their white counterparts. This is in alignment with SSLC’s goal to increase the retention rates of Maryland’s Black population.

Companies in attendance came from a range of fields like engineering, public service, computer science and communications. Some of the companies in attendance included Yelp!, Prince George’s County Fire Department, Future Housing Leaders and PepsiCo.

These companies have a specific desire to hire students of color, said Randall. But getting in contact with these companies was the biggest challenge, said Hope Randolph, senior kinesiology major and Brunch for Success committee co-chair.

Antoinette Brimmer, a senior communications and criminology and criminal justice double major, attended the event with hopes of finding a post-grad job.

Employers at the brunch talked about their companies, engaged with students about their interests and offered tips on how to “land the job.”

“If there were three words I would use to describe the ideal candidate, they would be goal-driven, strategy and communication,” said Julie Welde, a solutions sales associate with Optum, a healthcare solutions company.

With the resources available between SSLC and the Career Center, Randall believes students have everything they need to be successful. Randall encourages students to “jump out of their comfort zone.”

Not only were students in attendance, but so was Tim Bryson, career development program director in the athletics department. Working with approximately 520 Maryland varsity athletes, Bryson promotes student athletes as job candidates who can diversify a company’s talent pool.

“When I meet with students, we’re thinking about your identity within the sport and outside the sport,” Bryson said. “Some of these are social identities like race, gender, sexuality, and religion. What aspects of yourself contribute to form who you are and the careers you want to go to when you’re done playing your sport?”

With approximately 50 percent of Maryland’s athletes being students of color, Bryson’s goal of assisting athletes aligns with SSLC’s mission to increase retention rates for students of color on campus.

Knowing who you are is a major key when it comes to meeting with employers. As a student, Brimmer is learning how to “humble brag” about her accomplishments because they are what make her stand out.

“You have to come with confidence,” Brimmer said. “You definitely are your own biggest supporter … also you want to be kind and be a good listener, absorb what [employers] are saying when they speak to you.”