RIT’s Affinity Reception adds diversity to the mix of talent employers need

‘Reverse career fair’ brings company recruiters to students

A. Sue Weisler

Mychael Hunt, a fourth-year game design and development major from Champaign, Ill., speaks with Diana Solt, a recruiter from L3Harris Technologies in Rochester.

Twice a year, on the afternoon before Rochester Institute of Technology’s campus-wide career fairs, a reverse career fair of sorts is held, where students from diverse organizations set up tables where they can talk about their talents and career aspirations.

Dozens of recruiters Tuesday met students from Women in Computing, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, We@RIT and the ALANA Collegiate Association on the second floor of the Gordon Field House, where they accepted résumés and discussed their companies’ openings as well as the students’ goals.

Diana Solt, a recruiter for L3Harris Technologies in Rochester, has attended the reception for the past several years, calling it “one of our top talent sourcing events. RIT’s Affinity Reception offers us an amazing opportunity to find top-notch talent because it flips the tables and allows employers to seek out students who are strong candidates to join our team.”

She said her company, which hired more than 60 RIT students for co-op or full-time employment this past year, is committed to building a diverse workforce. And the students at the reception offer different perspectives the company seeks from its employees.

“L3Harris seeks to leverage the strength that comes from appreciating the wide array of viewpoints within the student body,” Solt said. “We are always looking for the underlying ambition and motivation that drives people to move forward and their many different points of view.”

Melanie-Lark Benning, a recruiter for Cisco, traveled from North Carolina to attend the reception and Wednesday’s career fair.

“I want to learn more about what the student organizations are about and find out ways Cisco might engage with them,” she said. “I like the reverse career fair aspect to it. And RIT is an excellent place to recruit. We love RIT.”

Maria Richart, director of RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, said the Affinity Reception is an excellent opportunity for students to meet recruiters in a more relaxed atmosphere, rather than at the actual career fair which featured about 240 companies and thousands of other students with résumés.

“Many companies come to RIT looking for not just engineers or not just a specific type of engineer, they are looking for diversity for their workforce,” Richart said. “So, this event allows them to look beyond ethnicity, but also in gender and diversity.”

Calvin To, a fourth-year new media interactive development major from New York City, was at a table with his fellow RIT students in the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, talking to recruiters.

“Definitely, diversity helps,” To said, noting that he worked with a diverse staff at IBM last summer at a co-op. “It makes me feel more comfortable when I see people of color in the same room I’m in.”

Frank Caruana, a talent manager for Geico, said RIT is one of the largest schools he recruits from. Six RIT alumni are currently in the company’s emerging leadership program, focusing on business or information technology. He said attending the Affinity Reception means meeting even more valuable prospective employees.

“We’re always looking to recruit talent from diverse organizations,” he said.

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