Two historically black VCU Greek life organizations hosted federal resume writing workshops Oct. 24 to assist students planning to apply to government jobs.
The workshops — one held in the morning and another in the evening — covered topics including advice on writing a resume, answering tough interview questions and identifying transferable job skills.
The sessions were hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
DeShan King, who works for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — a government hiring agency — spoke to students about the process of creating a resume for a government job. King also provided advice on the appropriate appearance and etiquette for job interviews, whether in-person or through video chat.
“Make sure your clothes are clean, make sure your nails are clean,” King said. “You don’t want to give people a reason not to hire you. People have little pet peeves and you don’t want to walk into a room with one of them.”
King, a black woman, warned students about potential discrimination during job interviews due to gender and appearance.
“Some people ask me, ‘Is natural hair okay?’” King said to the attendees, who were predominantly black and female. “Well, you are who you are. Natural hair and a natural face shouldn’t stop you from getting a job.”
Some students, like attendee Davidyne Reeves, came away with optimism about the new skills they learned.
“I’m going to learn how to turn negative questions into positive answers,” Reeves said. “I used to work at a nursing home and the nurses felt like they could pick on me. I’m going to tell [the interviewer] that I didn’t let it get to me.”
The students who attended the workshop came from a variety of educational backgrounds; not everyone said they planned on pursuing federal careers. Many had majors in science fields, but believed the workshop could benefit them anyway.
“Federal jobs can be really versatile,” said Shawn Toney, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. “There’s a place for everyone. You can find a job in anything that interests you.”
This is the first time these two Greek organizations hosted this type of event, though they have co-hosted other events in the past.
“We co-host [an event] every year,” said Riqia Taylor, president of the VCU chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. “Both of our organizations are very dedicated to helping our peers succeed in their future. We thought this program would benefit our peers at this point in college.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first sorority for black women, founded in 1908 at Howard University, and Alpha Phi Alpha was the first black fraternity, founded in 1906 at Cornell University. Both organizations emphasize community service.