In January, Cal Poly’s Information Systems Association hosted Preparing for the Workforce 2016 — Making a Difference, a student-centered event that brought together successful female alumni working in the technology sector with students preparing for their careers to effect change in Cal Poly’s campus climate.
In the past, the Preparing for the Workforce (PFTW) event served to inform and excite the students about the future, but this year PFTW decided to take a different approach. This year’s event aimed to empower the students to take the knowledge they gained from the presentations and challenge them to use that to build a better Cal Poly and ultimately a better world. The students—who were all members Orfalea College of Business and College of Engineering clubs—encouraged to become active participants in the event, taking what they learned and applying it to their clubs as well as their interactions at Cal Poly and in the workplace.
This event featured discussions lead by industry leaders, including Gina Roldan from Microsoft, Avital Arora from NetApp, Christine Songco Lau from Google, and Heather Bunyard from Amgen. All of the companies represented are all passionate about improving workplace inclusion and diversity. Each professional met with small groups of students, sharing personal stories regarding inclusion and the strategies that their specific company uses. Professor Barry Floyd, the faculty advisory for the event, spoke at the event as well.
After the students heard from each of the businesses, they attended a short session that discussed inclusion initiatives and resources that were offered at Cal Poly. From there, students were then charged to take all the information they had learned today and come up with their own plan for making a difference at Cal Poly.
Each of the different clubs was asked to create their own unique plan to create change on campus that would be submitted in mid-May for evaluation based on which plan had the greatest impact on the campus.
The change of pace for PFTW was met with tremendous success as students began to engage and think critically about the issues that are present on their campus and in their lives. The proposals created by each of the clubs have the potential to create change on campus and continue encourage discussions about inclusion in the future.
The event was coordinated by a team of Orfalea College of Business students — Jillian Zdepski, Shelby Sly and Shae Lamb — and sponsored by the Information Systems Association, Women in Business, and co-ed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.