During the job search process, you will have many opportunities to show employers that your identity makes you an excellent candidate. Check out these examples.
Your resume. A strong engineering resume focuses most of its attention on engineering experiences like technical projects and internships. However, your affiliations and involvement in identity-related activities and organizations help you stand out from other candidates. Here are some tips for highlighting identity-related experiences and skills on your resume:
- Always include and identify your native language(s) under your skills section. Being bilingual is an increasingly important asset in the workplace and a highly sought out skill.
- Identify any significant academic experiences related to identity and diversity at the top under your education.
- Examples include: oSTEM, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Black Engineering Society, MICA, Global Communities, Language House, College Success Scholars, Sister-to-Sister, University Partners Program, Study Abroad
- Create a section called “Leadership Experience.” Add identity-related organizations and use bullet points to showcase how they make you a leader.
- Mention your affiliations with identity-related professional organizations.
Your Cover Letter. If the position description that you are applying for shows interest in teamwork and leadership, among other desired skills, focusing on identity-related experiences is an excellent way to prove how your identity is an asset to you. Consider the example below on teamwork.
During my freshman year, I collaborated with eight other students to build an over-sand vehicle. Because I was the only woman in the team, and especially because I also identify as Hispanic, I faced discrimination from my teammates who assumed I didn’t know how to operate power tools and program which resulted in an unequal distribution of work. While my teammates were eager to control the project without my input, I stood my ground as a sub-team leader and reassigned the work fairly. Afterwards, I used my cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution skills to develop rapport between members and worked together with them to create a timeline for the project. Because of my leadership in delegating tasks and organizing collaboration, my subteam successfully finished its tasks before any other subteam in the entire class.
Remember the cover letter paragraph framework of CAR (Challenge, Action, Result). This student discussed what was challenging (facing discrimination, unequal distribution of work), the exact actions taken (reassigning the work fairly, using skills, developing rapport between members, working with members to create a timeline) and finally, the result of her actions (subteam successfully finished their tasks first).
Your Interview. Like in the cover letter, interviews are great opportunities to tell a story about how your identity has contributed to your success and how it will make you an asset in the workplace. Consider the example below.
“Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult choice.”
For the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was thrilled to be selected as a Community Organizing Student Intern (COSI) at the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) Office on campus. However, as the semester progressed, I struggled to balance my leadership responsibilities as an intern with my engineering coursework and failed my midterm in one of my core classes. I knew that I had to either withdraw from the class or resign my COSI internship if I wanted to have a successful semester.
Most students would easily choose to recover their class grade, but to me, it was a very difficult choice. In my role as a COSI intern, I mentored many first-year, first-generation college students of color who struggled with the transition to college both socially and academically. Because I had the exact same experience when I came to college and I sought help through the MICA office, I knew how dire it was to have a reliable community to lean on. To choose to recover my grade when I had made a commitment to the MICA office and to so many students didn’t feel like the right thing to do.The office would not be able to find someone to replace me and it would be a hardship for the office.
I worked with my academic advisor to determine the best plan of action. I chose to sacrifice my summer job plans and retake the class over the summer term instead of completing it during the semester. When I retook it and was able to focus solely on academics, I ended up receiving a grade of an ‘A.’