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Career Exploration and Success
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Career Exploration and Success
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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding an Inclusive Job Search

Rutgers Office of Career Exploration and Success (CES) is a welcoming space for students of color to explore, seek information, be vulnerable, accepted, and ask questions to receive informed guidance and advising on successful academic planning and preparation, and career development. At CES you will find access to professionals and services to become more career-ready. As seen by the mission statement from our Executive Director, William Jones, on this webpage, we realize that students of color may well bring unique experiences regarding equity, access, and inclusion which may not have been advantageous to professional development. See some common frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) from our students of color, along with some brief, sample responses below. Please set-up an appointment with one of our Career Advisors, on Handshake, to address your specific career planning experience or question. In addition, you may also want to share your experience or individual question. One of our CES advisors will review and contact you directly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if my employment organization asks me to alter my appearance? (Ex: cut my locs, remove my hijab, head-dress, wear ‘less enticing’’ clothing, facial hair, large, chunky jewelry, clothing with messages, etc.)

You may ask if the request pertains to appearance standards that apply to all employees, are linked to the ability to safely perform one’s job, and if these standards of appearance are issued by the company’s Human Resource department to all employees at the time of onboarding and orientation. You may ask that this request be put into writing to keep for your records.

You may reach out to your organization’s Human Resource department to review company-wide standards and regulations regarding appearance and dress, to evaluate whether you are being singled out unjustly.

As a candidate you have choice to make a decision the company’s mission, culture, presentation and actions meet or conflict with your values.

What can ‘business casual’ look like for a BIPOC individual? What about ‘business professional?’

You may, at the time of your employment offer, or at your initial employment orientation and training, ask about office dress standards and requirements for all employees, and, if on some occasions, out of the office, or meeting with a client, other dress standards may apply

Business casual can mean different things in different organizations and there are lots of ways to be employment ready. Be creative, this does not mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money on new clothing - borrow from family or friends, visit a thrift store, etc. Our Career Advisors can help guide you on appropriate dress for interviews and meetings and may be able to refer you to other CES programs for additional contacts and resources for clothing options.

Research the company to better know your industry and companies and possible expectations about dress policy and appropriate work attire.

Visit our CES Career and Internship Guide at, or make an appointment with one of our Career Advisors today to address your specific questions.

How can I tell if an employer is truly committed to DE&I in the workplace?

You may ask during the course of your interview process about the company’s DEI efforts and initiatives, and the company’s commitment to those efforts, e.g. programs, initiatives, affinity groups, etc.

As a candidate, you can also be a pro-active and engaged observer of the organization. Look around the company, and on their website, look for articles online, connect with any RU alumni who work there through LinkedIn and Student-Alumni Career Connect (SACC). Look for diversity, engagement, and inclusion in observing who works there, how people interact, what leadership looks like, what programs, training, and opportunities are presented and promoted.

Seek out resources for diverse employees within your organization (e.g. affinity groups, meetings, programs, initiatives, etc.)

Explore resources outside of your organization in media, websites, including Glassdoor, and Diversityinc.

I’ve heard that alumni and mentors can really be beneficial to me in gaining internships and job opportunities. How do I find alumni and/or mentors to help me, and what do I say to them? How do I find alumni and/or mentors that look like me to help me, and how do I make this type of request?

Within an organization, you can ask about informal or formal university alumni groups to which you may join or explore.

Ask about company “affinity groups” or programs and initiatives for diverse employees.

You may ask if your employer or university offers a formal or formal mentor program. For example, Rutgers University Office of Career Exploration and Success offers a number of programs and resources, including the Student Alumni Career Connect (SACC) system, SACC LIVE virtual alumni networking events, and LinkedIn alumni database advising to assist you in locating alumni/mentors who look like you and to connect undergraduate students with alumni and possible career mentors.

Meet with a Career Exploration and Success Advisor to help guide you in possible approaches to connect with student cultural organizations, fraternity/sorority alumni and other CES, and Rutgers’ resources.

I am intimidated to go to large CES events. I often don’t see recruiters who look like me, I don’t know what to say, or how to benefit from these events?

Large-scale Career Fairs, and seminars can often be intimidating and confusing. They may, or may not, be staffed with representatives who look like you. These events, however, are developed with you in mind - with employers, alumni and representatives who are eager to meet you, help you, guide you, and connect you to opportunities to learn, network, and connect to CES staff, employers, internships and employment opportunities.

Make an appointment with a CES Career Advisor to discuss your concerns and practice how to approach these events confidently and take advantage of the many opportunities for personal and professional growth.

How can I let someone know that I feel uncomfortable with a comment/action at work without being “unprofessional” or risking my job?

Employers typically have a process and an office, or resources, to utilize if you are made to feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way in the workplace. One resource is typically your direct manager, another is the organization’s Human Resource Department. Please make an appointment with a Career Advisor at CES if you would like to discuss how to best approach your specific situation.

Now that we are all operating virtually, I am not sure how to make the best presentation on video for an interview or a meeting. How can I make the strongest positive impression on a recruiter?

Approaching a video interview, meeting or interaction with a company recruiter or interviewer can be intimidating in person, or by phone or video! Meeting by video introduces other unique considerations to think about such as technology, video quality, sound quality and lighting, in addition to the usual concerns about the quality of your answers!

Take time to prepare your environment and your technology. Seek out assistance as needed. Try it out before your interview or meeting.

Make an appointment with a CES Career Advisor to review how to best prepare for video interviews and events.