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Authenticity Matters: Being Black in Corporate America

Panelists give students tips on how to tackle the business world

Alpha+Kappa+Psi+and+the+National+Association+of+Black+Accountants+put+together+the+event%2C+which+featured+four+established+panelists.
Alpha Kappa Psi and the National Association of Black Accountants put together the event, which featured four established panelists.

Alpha Kappa Psi and the National Association of Black Accountants put together the event, which featured four established panelists.

TORCH PHOTO/BRE'ANNA GRANT

TORCH PHOTO/BRE'ANNA GRANT

Alpha Kappa Psi and the National Association of Black Accountants put together the event, which featured four established panelists.

Bre'Anna Grant, Staff Writer

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Nearly 30 students had the opportunity to network with professionals from JPMorgan Chase, Protiviti and Ernst & Young last Wednesday, Feb. 7 at the “Being Black in Corporate America” event hosted by Alpha Kappa Psi co-ed fraternity and the National Association of Black Accountants. Panelists included Roberta Esther, Carlito Utlett, Ismael Sangare and Yanique Williams.

The event kicked off with the panelists introducing themselves and their line of work before the moderator followed with questions about inclusion, diversity and being authentic in the workplace.

“A part of inclusion is learning to include yourself,” Utlett, a senior consultant at Protiviti said. “Speak up for yourself.”

Sangare, a manager at EY, gave students advice on how to thrive in the corporate climate.

“You have to pick up on the behaviors. If everyone is wearing a suit, you wear a suit. If everyone is dressed casual, you should still dress nice,” Sangare said. “Don’t be afraid of ‘no’s’ and work to learn, not just earn.”

“There will be times when you are the only person of color or minority in the room. And you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Williams, a senior consultant at EY, said. “Understand that you have the ability and confidence to achieve anything because you are a boss.”

At the end of the event, students were able to ask panelists for more advice and to share their stories. Two students shared how they think St. John’s and the organizations for this event have been doing hosting events that focus on helping black students advance after college.

“This is the first event that I have been to that was heavily promoted to students of all majors,” senior Simone Edwards said. “If there are more events similar to this, they are hard to find and no properly marketed. There needs to be way more networking events besides the Career Fair. I feel like it’s the only real opportunity I get to actually connect with an employer and give them my resume.”

“We have clubs and organizations, but it depends on the students to really come out and get active,” freshman William Casimir, a new member of AK Psi, said. “St. John’s tries its best to give black students resources but we need to remember that this isn’t a HBCU [Historically Black College/University]. Certain events won’t be as publicized as much as others, that’s why black organizations push more events in February.”

 

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Authenticity Matters: Being Black in Corporate America