Clarkson University’s Black Leaders Advocate for Change (BLAC) is calling its first ever career expo a success, and especially with the challenges of holding a new event virtually.
Hawa Drame ‘21, a co-founder of BLAC, organized the career expo with the help of Clarkson’s Career Center. She said the idea was spontaneous and followed discussions to encourage more members of Clarkson's underrepresented populations to attend career fair opportunities.
Drame said her goal for the expo was to increase the number of African American professionals participating in the fair and stimulate new relationship development. She believes there is a sense among African American students that having a focused event for underrepresented students could further advance hiring opportunities.
“But attendance and participation in the expo wasn’t restricted to African American students only: we also wanted to give everyone a fair chance,” said Drame. “With the help of the career center, and due to limitations of zoom, we had 50 employers and about 60 students attend. We thought the expo was quite a success.”
Drame said the career expo garnered the attention of several reputable companies, including Northwestern Mutual, Lockheed Martin, Consolidated Edison, National Grid, Estee Lauder, Target, EBI Consulting, Consigli, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Whiting-Turner.
An invitation to BLAC’s Career Expo was also extended to members of the higher education opportunity programs (HEOP) across the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley (ACSLV). Drame said many students were offered interviews and recruiters agreed to participate in the event again next year.
“COVID threw a wrench at us, but we managed to work around it of course. We used Zoom as a platform which turned out to be successful. Each recruiter had a breakout room and students were able to move between rooms as they pleased,” Drame said.
“When things return to normal, we do plan to have an in person career expo because it makes the conversations and employer-student discussions more personal. As much research shows, face-to-face communication is almost irreplaceable.”
Black Leaders Advocate for Change is a student-led caucus that advocates for issues of concern to African American students, in particular, and minority students, in general, at Clarkson University. Drame is a co-founder of BLAC, along with Grace Brown ‘21, Seth Onyukwu ‘21 and Ornella Brown ‘21.
“We are dedicated to advocating for an increase in the diversity of the Clarkson student body, and the inclusion of minority students in discussions of issues and implementation of policies that impact all students,” said Drame. “We seek for equal treatment and the elimination of discrimination in all forms at all levels and programs at Clarkson University.”
BLAC strives to not only protect and enhance the wellbeing of African American students, but also to enrich our experiences within the university and the broader North Country community, according to Drame.
“BLAC also serves as a support group for students and as a forum in which minority and nonminority students can engage in productive discussions that foster respect for and understanding of cultural differences, and act upon issues relevant to those differences,” Drame said.
Membership is open to all African American students at Clarkson University and anyone else who is genuinely intent on supporting the Caucus’ mission.
BLAC was founded in June 2020 and is currently developing a website that will provide information on the caucus’ mission, vision, overarching goals, constitution, bylaws, activities, and much more.