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Ready to Start Your Career? Insider Tips from Nestlé’s Diversity Leadership Symposium

Three past attendees share their experience of the event and tips on how to build a new career

Embarking on a new career is challenging, especially when you’re a graduate trying to figure out where to start. As a Talent Acquisition Specialist on the Nestlé Campus Recruitment Team, my day-to-day is focused on connecting college students with tips, resources, and opportunities to start their professional journey.

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, I spoke to three past-participants of the event — two who have since joined Nestlé, and one who took part virtually in 2020 and will join us later in 2021.

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.

Tyler, a Nestle Sales Employee, sits at a table in a conference room having a discussion with another attendee of the Diversity Leadership Symposium
Tyler attending the Diversity Leadership Symposium in 2019

Latia, Supply Chain (incoming): I attended the virtual symposium in 2020, and I’m joining the Nestlé team later this year. 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.

Latia, due to COVID you attended a virtual version of the event, how was that experience?

Latia: Honestly, when I heard it was moving from in-person to virtual I expected us to be watching recorded speeches — it wasn’t that at all. We had coffee networking sessions, we spoke to past attendees who were part of Nestlé, we got to speak to the CEO and ask him challenging questions, we even had a culinary session where we got to create our own brand ideas.

Latia stands outside a large college building in an orange dress throwing a graduation cap in the air.
Latia attended the Diversity Leadership Symposium in 2020.

Latia: I’m still in contact with the other people attending, we have a group chat where we share encouragement and the latest opportunities we’ve found.

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 sits by a window in a blue chair holding a red cup that says “Nescafé” on the side
Jerry attended the Diversity Leadership Symposium in 2012.

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. Even though the event will be virtual again in 2021, show up as you would in person — 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.

For information about this year’s Diversity Leadership Symposium and other opportunities, sign up for our Early Career Talent Network.

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