IBM is partnering with Handshake to reach all students with virtual events.

If you’re looking to build a more diverse and inclusive applicant pool, you need to build deep relationships with students of all backgrounds. One strategy: attending premier events like the National Society of Black Engineers’ (NSBE) Convention, held this year in Pittsburgh.

A few weeks ago, I went to NSBE with the team at IBM, the #1 employer on Handshake, based on student applications. The conference center was packed with thousands of students and recruiters. The mood was electric as students journeyed from booth to booth, talking with employers, meeting potential mentors, receiving career advice, and locking-down a summer internship or job after graduation.

But what about all those amazing engineers who couldn’t afford the airfare, lodging, and food costs associated with a trip to Pittsburgh?

Democratizing Information Via Virtual Events

We partnered with IBM to help democratize access to NSBE by making it available to students across the country — virtually. To ensure all students could participate in NSBE, IBM livestreamed a NSBE Q&A with four African-American employees from various divisions of the company.

The @NSBE virtual event was a success, helping @IBM significantly broaden its reach, particularly with historically underrepresented students.

  • Students from 200+ universities across the country joined the livestream
  • Over 60% of attendees were part of a diversity and inclusion-focused organization, like the Black Student Union, NSBE, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the Latino Student Association
  • 28 students from HBCUs joined

How IBM became the #1 Employer on Handshake

IBM’s approach at NSBE is consistent with their broad-based college recruitment strategy. In our States of Handshake series, IBM consistently appeared as the #1 most popular employer in states as different as New York, Texas and Oregon.

Why? In part, because of IBM’s consistent focus on prioritizing diversity and inclusion.

Last year, University Recruiters from IBM began adopting a more expansive definition of outreach when they discovered their prior strategy limited the geographic, ethnic, and gender diversity they wanted in their applicant pool. They wanted to ensure their recruitment strategy captured talent they’d missed and inspired more students to explore careers in technology.

To reach more students, IBM began to proactively engage all students from Handshake’s network universities, rather than just a select few.

Jeremy Buentello, a member of IBM’s University team, told me:

“We want to expand our reach to create more meaningful connections with students from all backgrounds.”

IBM’s Live Q&A at NSBE was another example of this approach. See how Alisha Moore, a visual designer on the IBM Cloud team, answers a question about being a woman of color in tech:

Learn More About Virtual Events

We’re now scaling out our Virtual Events pilot to a wider variety of employers as part of Handshake Premium. This Spring, savvy employers are taking prospective candidates on virtual company tours and coffee chats to bring more depth and color to their culture.

If you’re interested in building meaningful relationships with a diverse set of students, get in touch!