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Careers Support for Students from Diverse Backgrounds

By Joe O'Brien, on 19 January 2021

Read time: 6 minutes

Written by Lee Pike, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Why diversity matters

It is widely recognised that having a diverse workforce helps organisations operate more efficiently and creatively. A diverse workforce is one that includes people from different backgrounds, cultures, personalities and viewpoints.  In addition, organisations are increasingly becoming more global so diversity in terms of understanding different cultures, different ways of working and being relatable to clients from different backgrounds is a definite advantage.  

What does this mean for recruitment?

Recruiters are increasingly looking at ways to increase recruitment of underrepresented groups including women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), LGBTQIA+ people, those with a visible or non-visible disability, and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. In the ISE Student Recruitment Survey 2020 by the Institute of Student Employers, they found that 62% of 179 ISE employer members said they had ‘formal targets around attraction of different cohorts of candidates’ and 82% of respondents said they were taking actions to maximise the diversity of candidates they attract. However, this article from the Institute of Student Employers recognises that employers still have some way to go between their intentions and their actions.

What does this mean for you?

With issues surrounding diversity in the workplace becoming more prominent, there’s a growing number of opportunities available for those from a diverse background. Here’s a list of some current initiatives open to applicants from a range of diverse backgrounds:

  1. 100BlackInterns

100blackinterns offer internships to Black students from all academic backgrounds looking to get into investment banking with over 200 employers almost exclusively in London.  As with the Goldman Sachs above, although closed for 2020 entry, it’s certainly worth exploring for applying in 2021.

  1. Blind In Business

The Blind in Business Employment Service is designed to help blind and partially sighted students and graduates prepare for and find jobs within their chosen careers.  They provide support, advice and training, including how to talk to an employer about your visual impairment.

  1. Creative Access

Creative Access was set up to offer opportunities in the creative industries for young people from underrepresented groups. They work with global brands such as Apple, Tate, ITV and National Theatre.  A number of opportunities are advertised on the site.  A few of the current opportunities include:

  • Producer or Studio Researcher or Production Co-ordinator, CPL Productions (closing date 15 Jan 2021);
  • Young Board Members, Creative UK (closing date 18 Jan 2021); and
  • Collaborative Doctoral Awards, National Theatre (closing date 5 Feb 2021).

Visit the Creative Access Opportunities webpage for the full list.

  1. EmployAbility 

EmployAbility is a career management resource for disabled students and graduate. They run first year, internship, and graduate programmes, as well as vacation schemes and training contract opportunities, with inclusive employer partners.

Visit the EmployAbility Students and Universities webpage for a full list of opportunities.

  1. Exceptional Individuals

Exceptional Individuals provides recruitment and employment support to individuals with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Their resources include job boards advertising inclusive companies’ jobs specifically for neurodivergent people.

  1. Goldman Sachs Student Possibility Programme

Goldman Sachs Student Possibility Programme is an interactive multi-day program for students from low socio-economic backgrounds*.  The programme is open to students from all degree backgrounds and is designed to introduce students to the financial world through hands on experience. Although closed for 2020 entry, it’s certainly worth exploring for applying in 2021.

*Candidates who identify as first generation in their family to go to university, attended a state school (non-fee paying), or were eligible for free school meals.

  1. SEO London

If you are from a low socio-economic background or an underrepresented ethnicity group, SEO London‘s SEO Careers initiative prepares you for career success in the sectors of corporate law, consulting, engineering and technology.

SEO London partner with over 50 sponsor firms across eight leading industries and have supported several thousand alumni into internships and graduate roles since 2000. You can find help with preparing for interviews, as well as securing internships or a full-time job.  They also provide training on CVs, psychometric tests, commercial awareness, tech skills, presentation skills, assessment centres and interviews.

Find out more about SEO Careers on the SEO London webpage.

How can UCL Careers help?

Careers Extra

UCL Careers Extra is a programme of additional activities and support for UK undergraduate students (home fee status) from any of the following groups who are currently studying at UCL:

  • Neither parent went to university and you went to a UK state school
  • Care leaver
  • Carer
  • Disabled
  • Household income below £25,000 (as declared to Student Finance England)
  • Black African, Black Caribbean or mixed Black African/White or Black Caribbean/White
  • Received an Access UCL offer

Students who sign up to UCL Careers Extra will be added to a circulation list for targeted employer events and programmes. They can also apply for bursaries to help cover the cost of undertaking internships and can access preferential booking for some UCL Careers events, longer careers appointments and extra careers events that are exclusive to UCL Careers Extra students.

Support for students with disabilities/long-term health conditions

If you have a disability or long-term health condition you can do the following:

  • Request an extended one to one appointment with a careers consultant.
  • Request adjustments to enable you to access a one to one careers appointment (which all currently take place via MS Teams).
  • Request reasonable adjustments for an event or workshop you will be attending (please email at least 48 hours in advance).
  • Receive careers information for students with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Where can I find out more?

UCL Careers has gathered information about a variety of organisations working to support different groups – you can find this in the Diversity and Inclusion section of our website.

Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority

This UCL Careers Extra web page for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students provides numerous careers-related resources relevant to students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

Find information about sector-specific resources, non-sector specific resources, students’ union UCL clubs and societies and BAME mentoring.

Disability and Health Conditions

This resource provides careers-related information for students with disabilities on a wide range of topics including

  • Organisations providing advice and support;
  • Disability positive employers;
  • Legal rights;
  • Neurodiversity and autism;
  • Job listings;
  • Internships,
  • Work experience and graduate schemes;
  • Finding work opportunities through UCL
  • Funding

Other sections on the UCL Careers Disability webpage include discussing disabilities or long-term health conditions with employers; list of appropriate blogs; and, disability support at UCL.  UCL works in partnership with MyPlus, giving you access to MyPlus Students’ Club.

Careers Extra Resources

Visit the UCL Careers Extra webpage to find out more.

Next steps

Step 1

Why not set aside some time within the next week or so to take a look at the wealth of resources available highlighted in this blog.  It’s impossible to cover everything in this article so some exploration of the links and resources mentioned will help you, whether that’s understanding your rights or finding organisations that proactively engage with, support and assist students from diverse backgrounds.

Step 2

This article ‘The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace’ on getsling.com focuses on why diversity in the workplace is essential for success. It provides 13 reasons why diversity is important to a company and helps you to understand the importance of diversity in the workplace.

Step 3

If you’re a UK (home fee status) student and meet the criteria described for Careers Extra, why not register and book an extended 1-to-1 with a careers consultant?

Whatever your background and wherever you’re from, UCL Careers is here to help you on your career journey.

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