Career Resources for Racialized Students

Thinking about your career can be both exciting and overwhelming. As a person who belongs to one or more historically marginalized groups, experiencing and/or confronting race-based inequities in the workplace may add additional and unwanted anxiety as you contemplate your career path.

In addition to providing you with a full complement of career and job search supports (including, workshops, events, appointments, Major Maps, and more), Queen’s Career Services has created this webpage to provide specific resources and tools that may interest students who identify as racialized. We also recognize that there is intersectionality with other identities and experiences; this webpage is meant to be a starting point to provide insight and to highlight resources as you take steps towards seeking answers and information. To discuss your own specific context and questions consider booking a Career Consultation appointment with a career counsellor.

Reflect on Identities

As you engage in making decisions about your career paths and where you would like to work, it can be helpful to reflect on your own identity, and what considerations you have regarding careers. As you navigate various professional contexts, you may consider or have already considered questions such as:

  • How do the various aspects of my identity relate to my career or to the work I want to do?

  • How much do I wish to share about my identity with others, with who and when?

Working through the Personal and Social Identity Wheels Handout from the Human Rights and Equity Office (adapted from Arizona State University) may be helpful to reflect on your personal and social identities and which are most/least salient for you.

Our Disclosure and Accommodations Tipsheet may also be helpful in guiding your thoughts and considerations around sharing your identities in a professional context.

Research Potential Employers and Organizations

Thinking about your career can be both exciting and overwhelming. As a person who belongs to one or more historically marginalized groups, experiencing and/or confronting race-based inequities in the workplace may add additional and unwanted anxiety as you contemplate your career path.

In addition to providing you with a full complement of career and job search supports (including, workshops, events, appointments, Major Maps, and more), Queen’s Career Services has created this webpage to provide specific resources and tools that may interest students who identify as racialized. We also recognize that there is intersectionality with other identities and experiences; this webpage is meant to be a starting point to provide insight and to highlight resources as you take steps towards seeking answers and information. To discuss your own specific context and questions consider booking a Career Consultation appointment with a career counsellor.

In addition to general resources (such as the job postings on MyCareer and the Career Fairs and employer information sessions each year) there are some targeted resources that may be of interest for finding and assessing employers and job postings.

As you research and assess potential employers, in addition to other considerations like type of work, location, etc, you may find our Assessing Employers Through an EDII Lens and Your Own Unique Priorities tipsheet helpful. The tipsheet will give you questions you can ask, more resources for research, and ideas about what to look for to know if your future employer prioritizes equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity.

Diversity Job Board – An online platform that promotes job opportunities and companies that value inclusion and diversity. Find employers that are dedicated to diversity hiring. Sign up for job alerts and search for potential positions.

Include - An online job search that caters to diversity through their profile creation for those in the technologies field. They say, “We help diverse Techies find jobs & advance their careers while being visible and valued. We also help companies find the unique talent they need.” They are currently developing a diversity-based networking feature as well known as ‘Find your Squad’.

Websites that assess the diversity programs and facilities in Canadian and other International employers

  • For example: Canada Top 100
    “Canada’s Best Diversity Employers recognizes employers across Canada that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. This competition recognizes successful diversity initiatives in a variety of areas, including programs for employees from five groups: (a) women; (b) members of visible minorities; (c) persons with disabilities; (d) Indigenous peoples; and (e) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) peoples.”

Other similar pages are: DiversityInc., Forbes Canada’s Best Employers, Eluta

Know Your Rights

Policies

In Canada, individuals are protected from discrimination by several legal entities. The Canadian Human Rights Act provides human rights protections for individuals based on the following protected grounds: age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, national or ethnic origin, religion, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability, or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

Each province in Canada has a Human Rights Code that provides legal protection to protected groups. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Code establishes legal protection and equal rights and opportunities to everyone, and to be free from harassment and discrimination in all aspects of recruitment, hiring, and employment, including discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, and creed.

Employer Obligations

The Employment Equity Act requires employers to establish equality and to be proactive with fair representation of women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities within the organization.

Each province in Canada has their own employment standards act, laws, and labour codes that mandate minimum standards for wages and working conditions, such as the Ontario Employment Standards.

Organizations should have policies implemented that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a protected ground listed in the provincial Human Rights Code. Even without it, employees are protected from workplace discrimination on the basis of a prohibited ground under the governing Human Rights Codes enacted in their province.

See The Canadian Human Rights Commissions' Employer Obligations webpage for more information

  • Kingston Community Legal Clinic has a Human Rights section with FAQs that guide through discrimination, privacy and human rights claims in the workplace. 

The example on this page is a fictionalized combinations of many students’ experiences.

Balbir, a Political Studies major, is going to graduate soon. He commenced his job search with an appointment at Career Services. The counsellor encourages him to reflect on how he wants to balance his values, skills, and goals throughout his upcoming professional career. He makes the following observations in a journal.

He notes that along with his professional aspirations and considerations, living close to his family is very important. Since his family lives in London, Ontario, he focuses on nearby areas and cities such as Waterloo, Woodstock, and Cambridge in his job search perimeters. He is also thinking about working hours, as he considers his potential role as a caregiver for his parents in the future. At the same time, he would like a stable job with a lower turnover rate, salary stability and potential pension. As a man who wears a turban, it is also important to Balbir to work in a profession and organization that respects his cultural and religious identity.

Balbir reconnects with a former mentor who recommends that Balbir emphasize the client relations management skills from his summer job at a doctor’s office on his resume, as well as his language skills in Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi on his resume.

When talking to friends about the challenges in describing his relevant experiences and skills in his job applications, one friend mentions the Queen’s Skills Cards. The Skills Cards help him to realize how his volunteer experiences have developed a multitude of unique skills, such as “Understanding Leadership Styles” and “Intercultural Skills”. He better understands the skills he already has, and other skills he may still want or need to develop, and feel he is able to describe his skills and experiences more clearly for interviews. The Queen’s Skill Cards Sorter also helped him to figure out which skills were ones he preferred to use and other skills which would demand more effort.

With these considerations, Balbir makes another appointment to chat with a career counsellor. Through this discussion, Balbir realizes that his research experience in global climate governance politics is something he would like to pursue further.  With further self-reflection and other tools Balbir narrowed his focus to roles in research and policy within governmental ministries related to justice or the environment.

Reflection Questions

What are your present career priorities? Create a ranking of 1-10 of factors such as working environment and expectations, geography, company values, salary, professional development and advancement opportunities, alignment to career ambition, from “very important” to “not very important”.

Build Your Network

Networking is about cultivating mutually beneficial relationships and connections with a professional focus. It allows you to be part of a larger community to leverage your strengths and connections. Networking can occur formally, including through career fairs, industry mixers, employer events, as well as informally, through your natural network of friends, family, and classmates, as well as through organizations, associations, and groups you are part of.

Being part of a dedicated and intentional community can help you connect with others with similar goals and pathways.

While a student at Queen’s, there are a variety of student clubs and groups on campus with a focus on supporting equity-deserving individuals in career and professional growth. For example:

You may also want to browse through the AMS Clubs Directory to see a more comprehensive list of student clubs and groups on campus. There are also faculty-specific clubs affiliated with each student society, that may be of interest.

Additionally, there are dedicated programs, entities, and opportunities for equity-deserving individuals, external to Queen’s, which may be run by private corporations, governmental programs, and non-profit organizations. Some examples (from YorkU) include:

  • Onyx Initiative – “The purpose of Onyx Initiative is to expand the Black Talent pipeline by fostering cohesive, mutually beneficial partnerships to close the systemic gap in the recruiting and selection of Black University and College students for roles in corporate Canada.”
  • Black Business and Professional Association – BBPA provides tailored programming such as business classes, financial literacy, business readiness, marketing, as well as a scholarship program.
  • RBC Diversity Programs – RBC hosts various diversity programs for persons with disabilities, indigenous people, newcomers, LGBT+ and gender-based inclusion. These programs involve training, mentorship, paid internships, employee resource group, advisory boards, etc.
  • TD Bridging the Gap Scholarship: TD Bank has multiple diversity and equity-based programs. The Bridging the Gap Scholarship is for undergraduate students who fall within the specific identity groups, have an interest in capital markets along with extra-curricular or community involvement. This award includes a monetary scholarship, summer internship, paid job offer and a business mentor.
  • Manyatta Toronto - Manyatta's mission is to create professional networking opportunities for the African Diaspora. Manyatta champions positive change by showcasing social entrepreneurs and organizations which are making a positive impact in our community. Manyatta brings professionals together who are all experienced in their own right in a space.

You may also find community groups on social media platforms which may also offer other support and resources.

There are several resources for networking with Queen’s Alumni, including:

Informational interviews provide an opportunity for you to talk to and learn from professionals working in one of your fields of interest. You get to hear and learn from their experiences and stories, as well as getting accurate, current information that will support you in making informed career choices. Connecting with professionals in this way can help grow your network, and help you be better prepared in your applications and interviews.  

In addition to questions and strategies from the Information Interview tipsheet, there are also other aspects in our Assessing Employers Through an EDII Lens and Your Own Unique Priorities that may be helpful to ask in an Informational Interview.

Reflection Questions:

What questions do I want to ask through my research and informational interviews about the industries and organizations I am interested in? (Consider revisiting your reflections around your skills, values, and priorities, as well as the Personal and Social Identity Wheels.)

The example on this page is a fictionalized combination of many students’ experiences.

Jae-beom, who identifies as Korean, is graduating soon and has started their job search. They learned about YZX Diversity Program at YZX Inc. and want to apply for it.

They decide to schedule an information interview with a current employee at the company to learn more about the organization and diversity program. Jae-beom decides to use LinkedIn to see if there are any Queen’s alumni working at this company. He finds a few individuals and decides to reach out to one alumnus to have an informational interview chat. Here are some questions that Jae-beom asks to learn about equity and inclusion at the organization.

  • How are the BIPOC employees or members of the organization represented in managerial, supervisory, or executive positions?
  • What are some BIPOC social/resource groups that you are associated with either via your workplace or general professional experience?
  • Has the organization celebrated, participated in, and/or tangibly supported initiatives, services, and events that showcase and celebrate diversity and inclusion?
  • I see that there is a Diversity Internship Program at your company. Is there anything I should know about this opportunity? Do you know of former interns under this program that I can connect with?

Prepare for Interviews

Interviews are one way to present your authentic self and make a strong impression. Your name and its pronunciation can be an important element of this interaction, especially if your name is a significant part of your identity. Your chosen name may carry sentimental value founded in family, culture, history and so on. Saying your name correctly is a form of respect exhibited by the potential employer. Interviews can be an opportunity for you to specify how you wish to be addressed and/or to provide correction when needed. See this  article that can provide with 3 strategies on how to professionally request the correct pronunciation of your name. In addition, you can record your name’s pronunciation on your LinkedIn profile so others can look that up.

There is usually an opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview. Asking thoughtful questions, listening meaningfully, and showing curiosity demonstrates your preparation and interest in the role and organization. As a job seeker, you can also inquire about the organization’s equity, diversity, and inclusion policies during this stage. Additionally, you can connect with employers during Career Fairs and employer events.

Examples of questions include:

  • How has your organization made long-term investments in equity, diversity & inclusion?
  • How does your organization provide mentorship for growth in the company?
  • Does your organization have equity-seeking groups or groups affiliated to such missions that facilitate the working of equity, diversity, and inclusion here?
  • How does this organization provide benefits and accommodations that reflect the needs of a diverse workforce (e.g. paid sick leave, parental/caregiver leave, cultural leave, flexible scheduling, transition support, prayer room)?

The Queen’s Best Interviews magazine, Interviews workshops, and our Interview tipsheets are helpful resources that prepare you to confidently answer interview questions, including ones through which you can demonstrate your knowledge of and interest in the organization.

The examples on this page are fictionalized combinations of many students’ experiences.

Safiya initially wonders about generalizing her active involvement in equity-deserving student clubs on campus. However, after reflecting on the implications of removing it, she realizes that generalizing the culturally affiliated experiences on her resume and cover letter would omit mention of unique experiences they have been part of. Additionally, she decides she would like to find an organization that values different identities and intersecting experiences, so she decides to keep the original details in her resume and cover letter.

Alternatively, Madan decides to modify how he describes his experiences, in an interview, after observing the hiring patterns for profession X. He considers the implications of doing so and concludes that his main priority at the moment is gaining enough experience to move forward in his career. He makes this personal choice by weighing different factors such as his financial reality, familial obligations, and career expectations. 

You can review ideas and tips from the “Understand Yourself” section to weigh your values and beliefs, as well as perform a thorough assessment of employers and their organizational values. It may be important to assess the employers and their organizational values as well to make an informed decision in how you wish to share and express your identities.

Reflection Questions:

Do I feel that the organization(s) I am interested in show demonstrated commitment towards fostering equity and diversity?

If I had a chance to interact with employees of this organization, how did I feel about them and did these interactions align with my understanding of their organization’s values and priorities?

The examples on this page are fictionalized combinations of many students’ experiences.

What name should I be using for the application process?

It is quite common and acceptable to list your preferred name on your resume, but we recommend that you be consistent in usage throughout your application process. Consider which name you wish to use professionally and feel most comfortable being called. You will have to provide legal documentation which includes your legal name should you be the successful candidate and accept the position.

What are illegal questions in an interview?

Discriminatory questions are questions that single out candidates based on their race, gender, age, religion, ethnic origin, and other factors. These questions may be asked by interviewers out of curiosity or when making small talk in some cases, but appropriate interview questions should relate to the job and evaluate  an applicant’s qualifications, skills, and overall competence for the role. Examples of illegal questions include, “Where are you from?”, “What nationality is your name?”, “Where are your parents from?” and others. When some requirements such as language skills or knowledge of a particular country are bona fide occupational requirements, then the questions must be closely and directly related to the qualification. A bona fide job requirement is a task/qualification that is considered to be required in the context of a specific job. For more information about your protections and these requirements, please consult the Ontario Human Rights Commission page.

Human Rights at Work specifies some questions that interviewers should be avoiding, such as

  • “presence or absence of Canadian experience
  • landed immigrant status, permanent residency, naturalization or refugee status
  • place of birth
  • affiliation with a particular “community” or where the applicant “comes from”
  • membership in organizations such as cultural or ethnic associations
  • name and/or the applicant’s appearance
  • name and location of schools attended.”

NOTE: These interviews practices may differ between different countries and jurisdictions based on their different laws and societal norms.

This Glassdoor article is helpful for understanding the nuances of questions relating to race, socioeconomic status, age, and other factors that may be encountered in interviews. You can use this information to come up with strategies to managing the answers for such as “Where are you from?” and “What do you think about our diversity policies?”. This advice page by Monster.ca also provides some guidance on handling illegal or appropriate questions asked by employers during the job seeking process.

How do I manage microaggressions in the form of a question such as “Where are you really from”?

Nami just completed an interview with ABC Inc. After the interview concluded, Nami was engaged in friendly conversation with one of the interviewers as they walked down the hallway. In the midst of the conversation, the interviewers asks, “I’m curious, where are you from?”. Nami feels uncomfortable answering this question.

Nami had encountered a similar question before and had brainstormed various strategies for how she would answer such a question if asked again. Nami also recalls that ethnicity and cultural identity may be inquired only when there is a bona fide occupational requirement.

Strategy 1: Clarify and inquire about relevance of question, then decline to answer

She decides to respond in a clear professional manner in order to clarify the intent and purpose of the question the interviewer just asked of her. Doing so refocuses the responsibility on the interviewer to justify the question.

Nami responds, “Could you help me to understand how this relates to the requirements for the position so that I can better respond to what you are looking for?”

Strategy 2: Redirect focus to relevant experiences

Nami discloses her ethnic background. However, she uses this opportunity to supplement her skills and capabilities. She takes the focus away from the initial question and makes it about her potential as a successful candidate.

“I am Somali-Kenyan. In fact, I am fluent in Arabic and Swahili in addition to English. My diverse background has taught me to quickly notice and adapt to verbal and non-verbal cues in my environment. In my role as Event Coordinator for Queen’s Cultural Exchange Club, my background was helpful in making connections with others from different cultures and ethnicities.”

Strategy 3: Revert question back at the interviewer

In this scenario, Nami decides to take control of the definition of “Where are you from” and places responsibility on the interviewer to answer the same question.

“I grew up in a few different places but spent my formative years in Kitchener. Where are you from?”

In addition to the scenario above, you can use these articles as resources understand this question further. These Forbes and CBC articles covers the nuances of this “other-ing” question and may have to be tackled during the job seeking process. The Refinery29 article provides you with the strategies to handle such a query.

NOTE: If you do encounter such situations and would like further support, you can book an appointment with a career counsellor to debrief the situation.

Further Supports

There are various equity resources available online & in-person at Queen’s. You can use the following to learn about and to access them:

  • For Us By Us: Resources to Support QTBIPoC Student Success from the Yellow House, including a section specifically about Professional Development
  • Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office has curated a collection of resources based on racism, women, LGBTQ+, visible minorities and others. These resources include hyperlinks to organizations that promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Inclusive Queen’s is a hub with resources that students can use to connect with mentorship programs, list of on-campus equity groups as well as financial support methods, along others.
  • Faculty of Law at Queen’s has compiled an “Equity & Diversity Resource Bank”, which provides various allyship and advisory resources including an infographic on “What do I do if I experience/witness racism?”.
  • Kingston Community Legal Clinic has a Human Rights section with FAQs that guide through discrimination, privacy and human rights claims in the workplace.
  • University of Toronto (Mississauga) also has resources on Employment Laws and Rights, for  queries outside of Queen’s and Kingston. 

  • In-house drop-in advising and career workshops – Our career counsellors offer drop-in advising on Mondays to Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm, and facilitate career workshops on a variety of career topics throughout the year. Please see details of offerings and the schedule by logging into the MyCareer portal and viewing the “Events/Workshops Calendar”.
  • Are you part of a student club who supports racialized students? Book a career workshop for your club!   – We provide workshops and other supports to academic classes and student clubs and organizations, and events
  • In addition to our standard resume, interview, career exploration and other workshops, we also have a specific focus in working collaboratively with student clubs and groups for equity-deserving groups to create tailored career workshops according to interests and desired learning outcomes. Examples from past years have included:
    • “Within and Outside of Academia: Job Search Strategies for graduate students”, Scholars of Colour at Watson’s Hall
    • Career counsellor as speaker for “Racism in the Workplace” panel event, Queen’s Asian Students Association