Recently, I met with Melanie Moreaux, a senior in the iSchool majoring in Information Management and Technology, with a minor in retail management. She also recently accepted a job after graduation at EY.

Melanie is the President of BLISTS and I interviewed her about the 2nd Annual Networking event for diversity in the workplace. BLISTS is the Black and Latino Information Studies Support for students. For this event they partnered with NSBE: National Society of Black Engineers.

Q: For those who might not know, what is BLISTS?

Melanie: BLISTS is a student-run organization that focuses on educating African-American and Latino students, as well as other students from other populations, about information science and technology, providing computer literacy support and building a corporate and alumni network. The organization crosses both our undergraduate and graduate programs. Our principals are: Networking, Supporting, and Mentoring Youth. 

Q: Tell me more about the STEM Networking Event.

Melanie: On Monday, January 29, 2018, BLISTS and NSBE co-hosted the STEM Networking Fair for the second year in a row. This was held for the people in our organization as well as the general student body to have a chance to meet and network with different minorities in the STEM field.

One of our goals as an organization is to empower minorities with opportunities and resources available to them. The professionals we invited were alumni of either Syracuse University and/or BLISTS. Some of the companies that were represented were IBM, Deloitte, and EY.

Q: What happened at the event?

Melanie: The event was split into a meet & greet, dinner, panel discussion, Q&A, and allowing the students to meet with the panelists one-on-one towards the end. Students gave the professionals their resumes, asked about their own experience as a minority in tech companies, challenges that they have faced, and offer advice or help if need be.

The dinner included soul food, which was something different from last year’s event. This helped create more of a professional event while providing a delicious meal. During the dinner, the panelists sat with the students to create a more informal and comfortable setting than your typical networking event.

As mentioned before, BLISTS partnered with NSBE for this event and had 65 people in attendance total, which was the maximum capacity. The event was first opened to just BLISTS and NSBE students and then opened to the general student body. You had to RSVP to the event and fill out a form prior to the event about yourself.

Q: Who Was on the Panel?

Melanie: There ware six speakers total. NSBE invited three and BLISTS invited three. The list of panelists included:

  1. Devon Goins – AITHERAS
  2. Dominique Parker – IBM
  3. Lyndsey Fridie – IBM
  4. Megan Kelley – Deloitte
  5. Lesa Loritts – INROADS
  6. Kevin C. Leysath – Xerox

Devon Goins is currently getting her Masters at Syracuse and was a Hindsight speaker this semester.

The panelists started with introductions about themselves and their positions at the companies.

After the introductions, the VP of BLISTS and the President of NSBE had planned out questions to lead the panel in a discussion. These questions were about their time at Syracuse University, how they prepared before entering the workforce, the experience in their work environment, and how to network in college and advice they would give to current students. After that we opened up the floor for questions and then students could individually meet each panelist.

Q: What are the benefits of the STEM Networking Fair?

Melanie: The Q&A was beneficial, especially for graduating seniors. Panelists answered questions that students may have had about the culture of a corporate workplace, but don’t know who to direct those questions toward.

Hearing the perspective of the panelists gives an opportunity for minority students to ask questions that just can’t be answered by career services. It was reassuring to hear these perspectives from people who know them first hand – had the same questions current students may have when they were first going into the workplace.

Freshman through grad students were in attendance and it was really nice to see everyone interact with one another. Even if you were a freshman, it was still beneficial for you to receive this opportunity. This was a small, intimate networking event allowed students to ask more personalized questions, rather than the big career fair that may be overwhelming.

With this being only BLISTS second networking event, they hope to continue this in the future after seeing how beneficial it is for students.

Q: How Can Students Join BLISTS?

BLISTS has a listserv that you can sign up for and plans on having 1-2 events every month. One thing that is coming up is a speaker series with Skype, which Skypes in BLISTS alumni. BLISTS is also hosting a coding series that helps students learn code.

You can also reach out to the BLISTS e-Board members to ask about how you can get involved, or follow us on Instagram for news, career opportunities, and event announcements.

Celebrate 25 Years of BLISTS!

BLISTS is the longest-running iSchool student organization, celebrating its 25th year running this year. To celebrate this milestone, BLISTS is co-hosting their biggest event of the year with the iSchool Alumni Office, called a BLISTSful Return: Celebrating 25 Years of BLISTS.

It’s happening on the Syracuse University campus on Saturday, April 28. BLISTS alumni, students, and friends are invited. If you’d like to join, you can RSVP here.