Embarking on a new career is challenging, especially when you’re a graduate trying to figure out where to start.
Nestlé’s Diversity Leadership Symposium is an event that brings together students passionate about diversity at work. It offers students from a variety of backgrounds an opportunity to interview for careers with the world’s biggest food company. The symposium is part learning, part networking, and part real-interviews for upcoming opportunities in a variety of specialties at Nestlé.
To give you an idea of how the Diversity Leadership Symposium has helped people in the past, we spoke to three past-participants of the event — all of whom have since joined Nestlé.
When did you take part in the Diversity Leadership Symposium?
Jerry, HR: I was part of the class of 2012. I remember coming to the event not knowing much about Nestlé. I was surprised to find out how many of my favorite brands like Hot Pockets and DiGiorno were part of Nestlé.
Tyler, Sales: I attended the 2019 symposium and joined Nestlé shortly after. I’m just coming to the end of my first rotation in the Nestlé Sales Development Program, where I’ve been responsible for sales performance and growth in the Cleveland, OH area.
Latia, Supply Chain: I attended the virtual symposium in 2020. It was amazing to finish my time at college knowing I already had employment lined up — it took away a lot of the stress of those last months of being a student!
How would you describe the Diversity Leadership Symposium to somebody who’s never heard of it?
Jerry: It’s an opportunity to get immersed in Nestlé, get used to that new professional setting, and start setting yourself apart — it’s also an immediate opportunity for exposure with a company that’s looking for new talent. You get the chance to speak and engage on a deeper level with leaders who look like you, which as a black student or a person of color you may not have had much opportunity to see in the professional world.
Tyler: You get to see what a day is like at Nestlé, particularly as a minority employee. It’s a large networking event — you get to interact with senior leaders, and it’s a great foot in the door of a competitive organization when you don’t have much experience.
Why is a diverse workforce important to you?
Tyler: It’s huge to have somebody who shares your lived experience at work — it means you can reach out to somebody who better understands you. I know I can reach out to Jerry when I need support. That makes the best teams, having people who have different perspectives and who can bring those full perspectives to work.
Jerry: I think it’s important for people to know that there’s a place for them in settings that may seem unfamiliar. Even if they haven’t heard that from teachers or friends, there’s a place for them at a company like Nestlé. Events like this are just one way we’re bringing in lots of perspectives and making sure we have a variety of voices at the table.
Latia: Diversity promotes competitive advantage — more voices optimize results, but it’s also about feeling welcome. I want to work somewhere where there are people who look like me.
What would be your advice to people who are embarking on a career for the first time?
Tyler: I was scared of failure. I’d tell any new professional to embrace the idea that you’re going to fail — you’ve got to take reasonable risks to move forward, and if those risks don’t pay off it’s about failing forward and learning from that. Nestlé doesn’t expect me to be perfect, because nobody is perfect no matter where they are in their career.
Jerry: I agree with Tyler, you’ve got to unlearn the ways you’ve always approached things and be willing to take on challenges in a new way. That’s hard! You have to be patient with yourself when you’re starting your career, it’s going to take some time but the more you’re willing to listen and adapt the more you’ll thrive.
If somebody out there is thinking about attending the Diversity Leadership Symposium this year or in the future, what would you say to them?
Latia: I’d say just apply — you don’t have to have all the answers now, you can come and explore the company and see if it is the right fit for you. Do some research ahead of time and if you have questions to ask once you get here, be willing to ask them. You want to work somewhere that aligns with your values, so see this as an opportunity to figure out if that’s Nestlé.
Jerry: I totally agree, it’s all about showing up engaged and ready. This is a hiring event, there are people involved looking at the talent who are attending and figuring out who is serious about starting their career. Ask questions, take part in conversations, and be yourself.
Tyler: I asked questions that I thought were stupid, because this was my opportunity to learn. Turns out they weren’t stupid questions at all. It’s also a great opportunity to build a professional network, at Nestlé and with people from all over the country — people who have similar experience to you and who you can stay connected with. That’s valuable whether you choose to join Nestlé or not.