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Inaugural Black Career Fair

Inaugural Black Career Fair

Members of USC’s Black Student Assembly tapped into the Trojan Network to bring recruiters to campus.

Duotone photograph of Hahn fountain.
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Some 40 representatives from 17 companies will be on campus for the first Black Career Fair, Wednesday, February 1st. With firms such as Disney, McKinsey & Co., Deloitte, and Riot Games, the event will kick off USC’s Black History Month.

Marshall student Candace House, a BUSINESS OF CINEMATIC ARTS (BCA) student and co-executive director (along with Emery Ogah) of the BLACK STUDENT ASSEMBLY (BSA), credits her friend and Black Career Fair Chair, Ire Omitowoju (IYA ’24), a DANCER and entrepreneur, as the one behind the original idea.

"With the constant search for professional guidance and lack of diversity found in a lot of fields, I saw an opportunity for BSA to connect many different communities together: Black professional organizations, Black-owned businesses/companies, and Black students,” Omitowoju said. “While there is already a career fair on campus, there is something unique and special about seeing people who look like you running entire operations and intentionally looking out for potential employees/interns who look like them."

“Many of the recruiters attending are people of color, and a couple are USC alumni. We wanted students to feel safe asking, ‘What’s it like being Black in this industry? What is the company culture for people of color?’”

— Candace House

Co-Executive Director, Black Student Assembly

The event is the result of hundreds of hours of work beyond the ordinary academic demands facing USC students. “Ire and I are texting each other at 3 a.m. with new ideas,” said House. “We want recruiters to walk in and be surprised that students are running the event.”

They also relied on the professional help of others around USC, including Assistant Director of the Black Alumni Association Ron Autry, who was instrumental in connecting students with professionals in certain industries as they began to build out their attendance list. He also managed the companies’ registration process. “We could not have done this without Ron,” said House. “He’s really been a mentor to us.”

Students started out with a wish list of companies they’d hope would attend. “As a BCA student, of course I wanted to see more entertainment companies. Other members wanted tech companies, consulting, and health care.”

She got her wish – Disney, Paramount, Riot Games, NFL, and Sony will be at the event. But so will KPMG, Medtronic, UPS, and Boeing. See a complete list of companies participating HERE.

“Next year we’d like to see more companies in the engineering, legal, and health care industries,” she said. Nevertheless, “It’s a strong showing for our inaugural year.”

The Black Career Fair came out of a desire for the Black Student Assembly, an umbrella group to 15 student member organizations, such as the BLACK BUSINESS STUDENT ASSOCIATION and NATIONAL BLACK PRE-LAW STUDENT ASSOCIATION, to offer more professional development programming. “The BSA previously hasn’t dabbled in career outcomes,” said House. “That was an area that was neglected, and we thought we could help remedy that.”

The goal was to make connections and help students get jobs, secure internships, and find mentors. But it was also more than that, said House. At a typical job fair, face time with a recruiter at a popular company might be just a couple of minutes. “You give them your elevator pitch, your resume, and then you’re done,” she said. Organizers wanted this fair to provide a more intimate space for longer contact and deeper discussions. “Many of the recruiters attending are people of color, and a couple are USC alumni. We wanted students to feel safe asking, ‘What’s it like being Black in this industry? What is the company culture for people of color?’”

The planning committee provided all recruiters with an impact statement. “The response, especially from alumni, has been incredible,” she said. “It feels like the Trojan Family has come full circle, especially since one of our previous BSA Directors, Jaya Hinton, will be in attendance as a KPMG Representative.”

The Black Career Fair Committee has been meeting weekly since the Fall to plan, organize, and market the event. They created INSTAGRAM and LINKEDIN accounts as well as a website. Along with House and Omitowoju, committee members include Kameron Villafana, Radiya Ajibade, Melie Haile, Ayomide Ajayi, Khalil Daniels, Laylah Fairley, Muchiri MacHaria (Black Business Student Association President), Evan Steele, and Dylan Williams.

The event runs from 5:30 PM-8:30 PM in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom and includes company tabling, peer resume review, headshots, and speed networking.

Students can REGISTER HERE.