Making Connections

Students and recruiters find opportunities at Social Justice Career Fair
Thursday, March 24, 2016

Attending the 19th Annual Social Justice Career Fair for the first time as an employer, Tyler Mitchell ’15 reminisced about attending the Union Days event for the first time as a junior at ILR.

“I came to the career fair two years in a row,” said Mitchell, an organizer for 1199 SEIU New England Healthcare Employees Union. “I came originally to see what kind of possibilities were out there, and it gave me a really good sense of what types of jobs and opportunities were available.”

“Senior year, I was using all of the career resources available to me through ILR, but attending this career fair for a second time really helped me have that face-to-face discussion with someone who was actually doing the type of work I wanted to be doing,” he said Friday at the event.

“I made a connection with the person who was tabling this table last year, who is also an ILR alum, so we were able to relate on the educational background and Cornell and interest in social justice and the labor movement,” Mitchell said.

“After having an initial conversation with him, I went for it – submitted my resume, got in contact with the New England Healthcare Employees Union, got an interview. Lo and behold, I’ve been working there ever since.”

The fair, organized by ILR Career Services as part of Union Days, was held in the ILR Conference Center.

It attracted 18 employer representatives from labor unions and other advocacy organizations to campus to talk with students about internships, jobs and careers in organizing, public policy, advocacy, research, worker rights and law.

According to Mitchell, his ILR academics and experiences prepared him for professional positions in social justice. He noted courses at the practical and theoretical levels helped him prepare for industry-specific internships and beyond.

“I think it’s very useful for students to attend the career fair prior to their last year at ILR to obtain ideas of what sorts of internships to take advantage of, and in the meantime, what sort of classes they’d like to take to get a feel for what sort of work is suited for them.”

According to Mitchell, finding out what you are passionate about is key to finding the best fit for someone wanting to enter the social justice sector.

To Bruce Gitlin ’77, founder and executive director of the New York Center for Law and Justice, it’s that targeted passion from ILR students and graduates that sets them apart.

“There’s clearly a distinct passion that students here have for advancing social justice in the world and I think it resonates with this really marvelous culture at ILR,” Gitlin said.

“ILR professors, staff and alumni have been informed by that ethos and students coming through the school learn from that and bring their own distinct view of the need for social justice work,” he said.

Gitlin, whose three sons also graduated from Cornell, two from ILR, has been attending the Social Justice Career Fair as an employer for the past decade.

According to him, nearly every year he has worked with ILR students, either through internships or other programs, they have gone on to great success in law, government or public interest firms.

“There’s a great concern for the dignity of an individual’s sense of fairness inside the workplace and a sense of opportunity to enjoy equal opportunity and justice in the world,” Gitlin said.

“I’d like to think that in some small degree, I’ve helped contribute to the great work that ILR does in creating a sensitivity to the lives of others.”

Visit www.ilr.cornell.edu/career-path/ for more information on the ILR Office of Career Services and the resources available to students.