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Career Resources for Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color

Students of color may have unique considerations that factor into their career development process. An individual’s racial, ethnic, and cultural identity can factor heavily into one’s career plans. Explore the relevant sections below for resources and tips relevant to you.

Highlight your identity

As a person of color, you have a set of experiences and a perspective that can benefit any organization. Reflect on how your point of view could benefit an employer, and highlight those benefits when applying for a job or internship.

  • Resume: Highlight academic and professional diversity-related connections or experience (ie, membership with a minority professional organization or a diversity-related club).
  • Cover Letter: You can identify as a diverse student in your cover letter and explain why your background or experience could be an important asset in the job you are applying for.
  • Interview: Ask your interviewer about the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion or explain your desire to work for an organization that values diversity.
Evaluate the employer

As a student of color, researching organizations is key to making a career choice. Finding information as to whether an organization is supportive of diverse identities can be difficult to locate. The NAACP’s partnering organizations and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) partners are one place to start. Many organizations are actively working to diversify their recruitment strategies to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. To assess an employer’s commitment to an inclusive work environment consider the following:

  • Does the employer recruit and retain diverse talent? Do they intentionally try to hire people of color and/or create opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship programs?
  • What are the values or the mission of the company? Do they explicitly identify equity, diversity, or inclusion?
  • Are there any employee-focused programs, teams, or work groups that involve diversity and inclusion efforts?
  • Are there any specific resources for any affinity groups?
  • What are the professional dress considerations? Are they inclusive of different cultures/backgrounds?
  • Are there any specific cultural and/or religious conversations or considerations happening regularly?
  • Do they offer or require professional development opportunities on topics of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion for employees?
  • Does the job posting include an Equal Employment Opportunity or Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement?
Make connections


  • Join multicultural student groups
    • Clubs/Organizations: As part of the over 200 organizations at App State, there are around 20 or more clubs/organizations that focus on multicultural interest. Explore to find an organization that serves your identity and interests.
    • National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): NPHC has 1.5 million members and is one of the largest Black international organizations in the world. Appalachian State University has 7 fraternity and sorority chapters.


  • Conduct informational interviews with current employees and alumni of color
  • Participate in local or national organizations/affinity groups for your chosen profession
  • Join social media groups and conduct online outreach and networking
    • Utilizing the Linkedin Alumni Network for Appalachian State University can be a great resource for doing additional research and learning more about a company with the added bonus of adding to your personal network in the process. Speaking with alumni who work or have worked at the companies you are interested in can illuminate more of the company culture not seen on the internet. This can be an opportunity to dive further into the diversity and inclusion efforts seen at the organization from someone who has experienced it firsthand.

Click here for more tips on networking in-person and online.

Know your rights

Employees are often encouraged to bring their “whole selves” to the workplace. This can be difficult when workplace discrimination and microaggressions can have a negative impact on people of color in their careers, as well as possibly affect their mental health.

Types of microaggressions

  • Microassaults are overt forms of discrimination in which actors deliberately behave in discriminatory ways, but do not intend to offend someone or may think that their actions are not noticed or harmful. These types of experiences are similar to the “old-fashioned” discrimination that existed in earlier times but different in that people may not openly proclaim their biases. For example, when a comedian makes a racial joke or uses a racial slur they intended to say the offensive comment, but often end with “I was just joking” as a way of denying prejudice.
  • Microinsults are statements or behaviors in which individuals unintentionally or unconsciously communicate discriminatory messages to members of target groups. For example, a person might tell an Asian American that she or he “speaks good English” as a compliment. However, in reality, such a statement can be offensive to Asian Americans, implying that Asian persons do not speak clearly.
  • Microinvalidations are verbal statements that deny, negate, or undermine the realities of members of various target groups. For example, when a white person tells a person of color that racism does not exist, they are invalidating and denying the person of color’s racial reality.

How to manage discrimination in the workplace

What are you supposed to do when you are the victim of a microaggression? Below is a three-step process that assists an individual with how to react to a microaggression (Nadal, K. L. (2014). A guide to responding to microaggressions):

  • Did this microaggression really occur?
    • Sometimes microaggressions may be flagrantly obvious, however, with some encounters an individual may question whether a microaggression has happened. When there are people around (particularly people who the individual trusts) to verify and validate the microaggression, it makes it easier for the individual to definitively label the event as a microaggression. If this is not apparent in the workplace, it may be helpful to seek support from loved ones.
  • Should I respond to this microaggression?
    • If an individual is moderately certain that a microaggression did in fact occur, they may need to consider the potential risks or consequences of responding or not responding.
      1. If I respond, could my physical safety be in danger?
      2. If I respond, will the person become defensive, and will this lead to an argument?
      3. If I respond, how will this affect my relationship with this person (e.g., coworker, supervisor, etc.)
      4. If I don’t respond, will I regret not saying something?
      5. If I don’t respond, does that convey that I accept the behavior or statement?
  • How should I respond to this microaggression?
    • If individuals do decide to take action, they must contemplate how to react.
      1. A victim may consider addressing the perpetrator about how it made them feel. This may consist of educating the perpetrators, and describing what was offensive about the microaggression. Oftentimes the perpetrator will become defensive, which may lead to further microaggressions (particularly microinvalidations). It may be important to use “I” statements (e.g., “I felt hurt when you said that.”), instead of attacking statements (e.g., “You’re a racist!”). It also may be important to address the behavior and not the perpetrator. What this means is that instead of calling the perpetrator “a racist,” it might be best to say that the behavior he or she engaged in was racially charged and offensive.
      2. It is important for the victim of microaggression to seek support. Seeking support can include practical support (e.g., if someone experiences microaggressions at a workplace, she or he can file a complaint with Human Resources or speak with a supervisor or another colleague the victim would like to be present for the conversation). The victim may not feel comfortable leading the conversation and may seek for leadership or HR to engage the perpetrator. Individuals can also seek social support. Processing one’s emotions are also important because microaggressions have been known to lead to an array of negative impacts on mental health problems.

State and federal laws

Understand your rights in regards to workplace discrimination in the employment process and as an employee

  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that was established via the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to administer and enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity, genetic information, and retaliation for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. To learn more, read their facts about race/color discrimination.
  • The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is concerned that national origin discrimination may go unreported in the United States because victims of discrimination do not know their legal rights, or may be afraid to complain to the government. To address this problem, the Civil Rights Division has established a National Origin Working Group to help citizens and immigrants better understand and exercise their legal rights. If you think you, or someone you know, has been discriminated against because of national origin and want to learn more about exercising your legal rights, you should read this brochure about federal protections against national origin discrimination.
  • The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots.
Explore your resources

On-campus resources

  • Intercultural Student Affairs provides marginalized and underrepresented students with mentoring opportunities, community affiliation, and advocacy, in addition to holding educational opportunities for App State students to develop an appreciation for diversity and different perspectives, enhance self-awareness, increase multicultural knowledge, and strengthen intercultural competency.
    • While Intercultural Student Affairs covers a variety of topics and resources, they also manage the Multicultural Center which strives to enhance the cultures that comprise the App State community by hosting events, programs, and activities for students on campus.

Employer & career research resources

  • DiversityInc provides information regarding companies around the world that are committed to being inclusive. They create a yearly list focused on the top 50 companies that are committed to diversity. The companies selected are chosen by metrics surrounded by racial/ethnic representation in their company, leadership accountability, talent programs, workplace practices, supplier diversity, and philanthropy.
  • can be another great resource when doing research about companies. Glassdoor provides reviews from current or former employees about their experiences within the company and those reviews can be telling about company culture.
  • Diversity in the Workplace: Article from DeVry University sharing insights and strategies related to diversity for 2020 and beyond.
  • IM Diversity: Career site devoted to serving the cultural and career-related needs of minorities.

Job search resources

  • Black Collegian Online: The Black Collegian Online provides career and graduate school resources, a job bank, and employer profiles.
  • Diversity Careers: Information on diversity/careers in Engineering and Information Technology.
  • DiversityJobs: DiversityJobs strives to create a space where diversity-minded employers can find and engage with job-seekers of color. Provides a job search platform as well as a resource for career advice.
  • Diversity Working: Search engine that allows you to post a resume to an employer of your choice.
  • Hispanic Heritage Foundation: The Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) program can help you find an internship or job in the private or public sectors. Free lifetime membership.
  • iHispano: Information on Hispanic and diverse jobs.
  • IMPACT Interns of Color Networking Group: A Google Group that provides a variety of internship opportunities from consulting to software engineering for students of color.
  • Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT): Recruits students of color and other scholars interested in diversity and supports them in the process of applying to graduate school and getting funding to pursue master’s degrees in education with teacher certification.
  • LatPro: LatPro’s goal is to connect Hispanic and bilingual job seekers with diversity-minded employers.
  • IMDiversity: Through curating a list of diverse employers, IMDiversity presents a job board that is general enough that all majors can find positions but specific enough for job seekers to be assured they are applying to employers who are doing diversity-focused work
  • Jopwell: Jopwell’s goal is to connect African American, Latinx, and Native American students to employers who are committed to hiring a more diverse workforce
  • Professional Diversity Network Recruits (PDNR): PDNR is a generalized resource that does not focus on one racial or ethnic identity. The job search webpage has many filters to aid in your job search while the Career Events webpage has a variety of different fairs available for students to register for.
  • NEMNET: Employment opportunities in education for minority students (requires free registration).
  • Saludos: National resource for Latino job seekers and for employers seeking to increase diversity in their workforce.
  • The Institute for Responsible Citizens: A scholar program that serves African American male college students and offers a rigorous experience that includes internships, professional development, and a variety of social activities.
  • Black Career Women’s Network: A career development organization dedicated to fostering the professional growth of black women with services including access to mentors, job listings, and tools for success. The Career Development Center has provided an account for students to use on this website, and login details can be found on Handshake!
Unique considerations