June 13, 2022 | By Kevin Gray
TAGS: best practices, branding and marketing, competencies, diversity and inclusion, interviewing, nace insights, first generation, special populations, mentoring, career development
The UC Berkeley Career Center’s annual transfer student career summit is a five-hour virtual event that was created to help connect transfer students, who are often overwhelmed when navigating career opportunities, and employers that are not aware of the value transfer students can bring to organizations.
Called “Enhancing Diversity & Inclusion Transfer Student Career Summit,” the summit is the product of a collaboration with the Transfer Student Success Group, transfer student planning committee members, student organizations, employers, and the career counseling team.
“Transfer students were coming in feeling behind everyone else and with a sense that they didn’t belong,” explains Elizabeth Stanners, assistant director of Haas Employer Engagement, UC Berkeley Career Center.
“All of them had successful academic careers before coming here, but we had not done anything tailored to transfer students. They were lacking confidence and social capital and knowledge about how recruiting works. We needed programming to empower them and help them build confidence.”
The career center also wanted to provide employers with information about the benefits of hiring transfer students and how some recruiting practices—such as many recruiting calendars and job qualifications—exclude transfer students. Furthermore, the career center wanted to facilitate engagement between transfer students and employers.
“UC Berkeley’s transfer student population of 7,800-plus is its most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse population,” explains Stanners, who adds that 44% of the university’s transfer students are first generation and 60% are ethnically diverse.
“This event gives transfer students, who often confront extraordinary barriers in the job search and graduate school admissions process, an opportunity to gain career readiness competencies, receive mentorship, and engage with employers.”
Employers were educated on “the immeasurable value transfer students add to their organizations, such as rigor, intellectual curiosity, tenacity, and resilience.”
“Another objective was to educate our strategic employers about our resilient, extremely accomplished, and diverse transfer student population, which is an underutilized and powerful talent pipeline,” continues Heidi Yu, interim associate director for counseling and programs.
“Having employers engage with transfer students highlighted the value these students can bring to their respective organizations. It also educates employers in how to provide more equitable access for these students by reconsidering their recruiting timelines, job descriptions, and strict qualification requirements.”
A critical element of the success of the program was involving transfer students in the ideation process. These students selected activities and content through surveys, meetings, and individual counseling sessions.
The summit’s range of immersive experiences was broad and innovative, and included:
Sessions in partnership with employers, alumni, and career center professionals from 2021 and 2022 included:
“During the summit, transfer students had multiple opportunities to build their social capital through meaningful engagement with peers, employers, alumni, and graduate school admission professionals,” Stanners says.
“They also developed career competencies, including career and self-development, communication, critical thinking, and professionalism.”
The number of transfer students who registered for the summit increased from an initial maximum of 250 to a capped number of 500-plus. There were 487 unique transfer students who attended and all 72 slots of the speed mentoring sessions were booked.
In 2022, students were surveyed after the summit to provide an evaluation of how it met their needs. Additionally, student learning was assessed through Zoom polls administered during each session.
“To increase response rates,” Yu notes, “we offered swag provided by participating employers to the first 100 students who completed the survey. They were invited to the career center to pick up swag, creating an additional touchpoint with our center.”
Stanners and Yu offered several other tips for successfully planning and holding a similar summit:
“In this annual event,” Stanners says, “we have adopted innovative modalities in collaboration with academic, campus, and employer partners to provide enhanced student engagement. This gives this diverse student population the flexibility and equitable access to tackle today's dynamic recruiting process.”
Percent of employers citing Communication as most important competency
Job Outlook 2023
Percent of students citing Communication as most important competency
2022 Student Survey Report
Percent of employers who rate students as very/extremely proficient in Communication
Job Outlook 2023
Percent of students who rate themselves as very/extremely proficient in Communication
2022 Student Survey Report