During the spring of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 and racism pandemics, the staff in the UConn Center for Career Development set out to identify how we could better support students during that time, particularly Black students, without overstepping our role as a career center. We took a deep look at the feedback our office had collected from students from various sources and identified two key themes: Students felt that our office could be more welcoming and less intimidating. We brought in a trainer who taught us about the equity design thinking process and used the process in small working groups to come up with concrete ideas. One of the working groups suggested a DE&I Career Ambassador Program, and that’s how the program came to be.
The working group spent the 2020-21 academic year building out the details of the program, including what the ambassadors’ responsibilities would be, how they would be hired and trained, and what the compensation structure would look like. Then, the program was transitioned to the Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion in the 2021-22 academic year and recruitment officially began. The first cohort of ambassadors was welcomed on board in the fall of 2022.
So far, the program has been a resounding success. Each ambassador only works 5 hours per week during this inaugural year, but they have already accomplished so much under the direction of the Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion. For example, each student has run an event for their community, helped revamp and rebuild the affinity communities on our website, written at least one blog post about the intersections of identity and career development, and helped us build our social media presence.
In this session, we will review more details about the entire process: how the initial idea for the program came to be, how it was built out, how it is operating currently, and some example projects our wonderful student ambassadors have been working on.
Following this program, you will be able to: