It may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance: the opportunity to meet with representatives from some of the world's leading companies – Nike Jordan, Macy's Inc. and Target.
The University of Arizona Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing is making that happen during the "Fitting in While Standing Out" conference, when students will have a chance to network with industry executives. The Feb. 21 event will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second St.
Space is limited, and students are encouraged to register by Feb. 14. Registration is available online, to students of all majors.
"This is a great opportunity for the UA to highlight itself as a diverse campus," said Abra McAndrew, assistant director of student leadership and development at the UA center, which is part of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. "Companies have shown an interest and put an investment in on their part to send executive leaders who are interested in recruiting students from the University of Arizona."
The conference will help "prepare students for what they will face in a workplace where people are coming from many different perspectives and many different generations," McAndrew said.
During the conference, speakers will discuss their experiences of standing out, getting ahead and moving up in their professional careers, in terms of finding a cultural fit, seeking responsibility and finding a mentor, McAndrew said. There also will be time for students to workshop their resumes with corporate managers and network with corporate executives.
The event's keynote speaker is Dwight Lavender, group manager for the Diversity and Inclusion division at Target. Lavender will talk about why diversity is important not only for individuals, but also for companies. The presentation will be followed by three panel discussions on topics related to women rising through the executive ranks, equality for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and ways to build a relationship with a mentor.
Other speakers include:
- Dave Schechter, vice president of Nike's Jordan brand and UA alumnus.
- Carol Jackson, vice president for the Diversity Affairs at Macy's Inc.
- Andy Izquierdo, vice president of the Corporate Affairs division at PetSmart.
The conference will highlight ways that millennials, in particular, can use their generation's unique talents and culture to rise in the workplace and influence other millennials. Likewise, students will learn ways to develop strategies that will help them navigate through a changing workplace and be successful.
"We are hoping to gain the perspective of successful people who have overcome obstacles and are currently working in environments with all type of people from different backgrounds, different places and experiences," said Talia Watts, senior retail student assistant for the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, also housed within the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"I think students can gain a new perspective by seeing something through the lens of someone else’s experience," said Watts, who is studying sociology.
It is important, McAndrew said, for students to understand the significance of having innovative ideas, which can help them represent themselves in the best light while fitting into the company.
"I'm hoping any student who will go into a job will understand the different perspectives they are going to encounter and that they’ll be very aware of themselves," McAndrew said.
Students can use this conference as an opportunity to supplement what they have learned in classrooms and to network with company executives they otherwise would not have met, Watts said.
"We have a great, diverse campus, and to bring people together for this purpose is fantastic," she said. "There is an opportunity for all of us to come together and talk about these issues that are important for the future."