The Engineering Career Services office strives to provide a welcoming and inclusive space for students of all backgrounds to explore their career options and pursue employment that is congruent with who they are and how they identify.  

We understand that discrimination exists. We want to lift you up to face it and overcome it.  As you go through your job search, remember one thing first and foremost: No matter how you identify, you are an asset to the workplace.   Research shows that diverse teams help companies innovate, generate better ideas, reach a wider customer base, and are more likely to have higher profits.

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.

Check out some examples of the identity-focused resumes for a racially diverse candidate and an  LGBTQ candidate.

 

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.’ 
 

Look for the diversity statement on the company’s website.  If you can’t find one, that is a sign that diversity and inclusion is not a priority to this company.  A meager statement may also indicate this.  When you read a company’s diversity statement, notice how you feel about it.  Does it sound genuine or generic?  Is the company offering any proof that diversity matters to them?  For example, some companies may offer diversity and inclusion programs.  Here are some examples:

Look at the leadership on the company’s website.  Do you see a diverse team?  Then, look for the company’s employees on LinkedIn.  Do you see representations of diversity? 
Does the company make DiversityInc’s Top Companies for Diversity list?  Can you find the company on any other national lists?
Ask!  When you are at networking events and information sessions, it’s okay to ask employers the following questions:

  • What are your company’s top values?
  • How does your company promote diversity? 
  • Which religious holidays are observed?
  • Do the offices typically have lactation rooms or prayer rooms?
  • Are there policies in place for maternal or parental leave?

Make sure to pay attention to how they answer.  Do they feel comfortable and confident talking about diversity-related topics?  Does it seem like they try to change the topic or end the conversation? Is the content of their answer detailed and genuine? 

Check to see if the employer advertises positions and recruits at academic conferences or student career fairs that are intended for diverse students.  Several of the Clark School’s Student Societies often have special student rates to attend these national conferences and, in some cases, even have scholarships to attend for free. 

Search for alumni working at the company on Terrapins Connect and reach out to anyone that indicates they can help you in regards to “Workplace Issues” or “Gender and Sexual Identity.” For LGBTQ+ identifying students, there is also a specific group that you can join on Terrapins Connect. There are also Asian Pacific American Terps and Hispanic/Latino Terps group pages that students can join.
 

On Campus Resources

UMD Legal Aid provides free assistance to currently-enrolled full-time students for various topics including documentation, employment, and discrimination in the workplace. 

External Resources

 


Resources for Diverse Populations

A diverse work environment is one that understands, accepts, and actually values differences in race, ethnicity, age, gender, spirituality, ability, and sexual orientation.  When an organization truly values diversity, they create a sense of belonging for everyone.  You can find job boards for specific populations on our External Job Boards page.

On Campus Resources

External Resources

The US Supreme Court in 2020 determined qthat LGBTQ individuals are protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The court agreed with plaintiffs from three separate cases that discriminating against gay and transgender workers was inherently based on their sex and consequently was illegal.

On Campus Resources

External Resources

FAQs for Trans Identifying Students

What name should I use on my resume?

You should use your preferred name on your resume so employers know the best way to identify you. Here are some examples of different ways that you can write your name:

Artemis Nguyen 
Emma “Artemis” Nguyen
E. “Artemis” Nguyen

Feel free to add your pronouns on your resume, too. Typically, pronouns are italicized and placed beneath your name like this:

Artemis Nguyen
He, Him, His

If I haven’t had an official name change yet, is it okay to use my preferred name?

You can use your preferred name on your application materials, but your employer will need your legal name for background checks, I9’s, and health insurance forms. 

After your official name change, you may need to provide new identification materials to HR, which is required to maintain confidentiality.

Ask your employer to use your preferred name for your company email and phone directory.

Should I list jobs and ask for references from places I worked before my transition? 

Yes! Just because you list a position on your resume, it does not mean that employers have permission to contact that employer about you. If they do ask, or if you list someone as a reference, make sure you provide them with the contact of someone you trust. You may want to reach out to this person to talk about your new name and pronouns or ask HR to reach out to this person using your previous name and pronouns. If you do not feel comfortable with the employer reaching out to a specific place, you may confide in HR on why you do not want the employer called. 

Do I have to talk about my transition in my application or during the interview?

You do not have to talk about your transition at all. You may choose to if you feel comfortable doing so. If an employer asks a question that you feel uncomfortable answering, do not answer. Some questions related to gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex are even illegal to ask during an interview. 

I’m starting my transition. Do I have to say anything to my employer?

You do not have to disclose anything to your employer, and what you disclose depends on your comfort level.

What qualifies as a disability?

The ADA defines disability as any impairment that substantially limits major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. 

This includes anything that you can receive accommodations through the university’s Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS), or had an IEP or a 504 plan for in high school, as well as common mental health conditions like ADHD and depression, among others. 

What are the main factors to consider about getting a job with a disability?

  • Will a traditional interview be challenging for me? What about a time-based coding or case interview? Can I ask for and receive accommodations?
  • Will I be successful at the tasks outlined in the job description? Can I ask for and receive accommodations?
  • What accommodations work best for me now? How are they transferable into the workplace?

Do I have to disclose my disability? 

No!  You are never required to disclose your disability in the job seeking process. However, if you have a disability in which you need accommodations in order to be successful, you may want to consider disclosing it.

 When and how do I disclose my disability to employers and ask for accommodations? 

Every situation is unique and there is no umbrella answer to either of these questions. Please reach out to Engineering Career Services’ Assistant Director of Student Services, Veronica Perrigan, to make an appointment and discuss your specific situation. 

On Campus Resources

External Resources

What can I do for career development as an undocumented student? 

The best way to build your resume for your future career is through skill-building experiences. These experiences will allow you to explore your interests while picking up valuable skills applicable to the workplace. The Engineering Career Services staff is here to support you as you  consider some of the following opportunities and map out your career. Make an appointment with us to discuss the following opportunities:

What do I need to know about disclosing my status? 

While it is important to be truthful during the hiring process, you are ultimately the one to decide when and how to share your status with a future employer or graduate institution. An employer cannot discriminate against you because of your status. If you choose to disclose, you will want to think through who you are disclosing this information to (a recruiter or a future supervisor) and in what manner the information is shared (during an interview vs. the offer stage, or in a personal statement for graduate school vs. in the interview).

Most job applications will ask, “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?” If you have DACA, you are able to answer “yes” and continue through the hiring process without disclosing additional information about your background. More information about DACA can be found on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services page. Once hired, employers should not ask you about how you received your work permit. More information about this process can be found through the National Immigration Law Center, which also includes information about ITINs (if you did not apply for a social security number through DACA).

What is an EAD?

An Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, is work authorization issued by the Department of Homeland Security to certain nonimmigrants. The document will include a photograph, signature, validity period, and some additional information. This document is acceptable to use for Form I-9 to verify your identity and work authorization. In special cases, the EAD is automatically extended, but otherwise, you must reapply. You do not have to notify your employer if your EAD expires. 

What identification is needed for engineering certification and other testing (PE, FE, GRE, etc.)?

Testing sites usually require a list of documents to verify your identity before taking the exam. Please refer to your specific test’s guidelines. If you do not have the necessary documents, call the testing site beforehand and explain the documents you do have. 

What do I need to know about background checks?

There are several different types of background checks that an employer might run.  If you have any questions or concerns about a specific background check or your unique situation, please direct them to Engineering Career Services’ Assistant Director of Student Services, Veronica Perrigan

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an internet-based system which uses Form I-9 data to confirm a prospective employee’s work authorization.  

On Campus Resources

External Resources

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

LGBTQ Students

Students with Disabilities

Women


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