Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative

Background | Program Overview | Program Proposal | Why DEI? | FAQs | Mentorship Application


Real Industry was founded in 2014 with a mission to educate, empower and inspire university and college students in the arts and technology industries. 

In service of our mission to reach all students, we’re launching a new initiative to increase the number of women and underrepresented students discovering and entering these industries. We believe our initiative will expand our student reach and increase the diversity of experiences, knowledge, and skills we work with.

Our plans are ambitious! Over the next 3 years, we will build a program to support 5,000 students at over 50 campuses!

We can support these students utilizing Real Industry’s extensive assets: 400+ mentors, an engaged network of elite companies and organizational expertise in bridging academia and industry through events and mentorship.

Starting Fall 2019, students at 6 universities will receive a 1-year mentorship and experiential opportunities program. This program aims to provide students with 3 critical, measurable keys to career success: 

  1. Inspiration. Outcome: Students are aware of the roles, career paths, jobs or companies in our industry.

  2. Access. Outcome: Students have access to mentors and role models, to explore and prepare for careers.

  3. Experience. Outcome: Students have real-world experience and are able to translate their in-school learnings to professional skills and knowledge. Students work on small projects to demonstrate success.

Program Overview

In August 2019, we will launch a year-long pilot mentorship and mini-project program across 6 universities. Our goal is to serve 600 students who are underrepresented at the intersection of arts and technology with the access, mentorship and experience to pursue their dream jobs. In this pilot project, we will refine our approach, gather feedback and prepare to serve a larger student audience.

We are supporting 6 universities and colleges in 2019: Cal State University, Monterey Bay; Loyola University New Orleans; Spelman College; University of California, Riverside; University of Hartford; Wayne State University.

We will scale from 6 universities to 54 universities in 3 years and have a robust staffing plan to do so.

We do this by teaching the teachers. Our plan is to scale the program to support over 5,000 students at 54 universities by empowering faculty and campus staff to be our campus leaders and coordinating our network of 400+ industry mentors.

Hereafter, we refer to “faculty and campus staff” as “faculty.”

Our advocates and coordinates will be motivated campus faculty with reach to hundreds of students. Faculty will apply to become Real Industry Faculty Fellows to receive training, grants and invaluable resources from Real Industry to share at their universities.

In year 1, faculty share the resources on their home campuses. The real magic happens in year 2, where faculty pledge to “pay it forward”: sharing their experiences, learnings, and introducing Real Industry programs at 2 new campuses in their geographic area.

With this pay-it-forward model, at least 1 university faculty provides support in 2 new campuses each year, allowing us to rapidly scale to new campuses with minimal staffing overhead.

Program Proposal: Real Industry - Career Discovery

  • Stage 1: (August 2019) Teach the Teachers. We will work hands-on with faculty to understand their students needs and co-create a unique mentoring program to adapt to their needs.

  • Stage 2: (September 2019) Inspiration. Faculty will lead design challenges to raise awareness and excitement about career roles in the arts and tech industry (media technology, consumer electronics, music/media business).

  • Stage 3: (October 2019) Access. Students are coached by Real Industry and mentors to act on their insights and research career paths in industry. 

  • Stage 4: (November 2019) Experience. All students having completed Stage 2 are eligible to select and work with their mentors to complete at least 1 project from dozens of well-known companies.

  • Stage 5: Internships and Beyond. Students learn about internship opportunities and how to navigate the application process.

Stage 1: Teach the Teachers.

Hypothesis: Faculty want to more fully learn the roles, industry needs and/or career paths in industry. They sometimes do not have well-established corporate relationships or networks.

Deliverable: With our “teach the teachers” approach, we will select and work with university faculty as Real Industry Fellows. Faculty will be invited to the SF Bay Area to attend a 3-day professional development workshop in August 2019. In our pilot year, we will work hands-on with faculty to understand their students’ needs and co-create a unique mentoring program for those needs. We will contribute our expertise and network by bringing in companies and industry mentors, to help faculty understand industry needs and trends and how to best prepare students for success.

Takeaway: Faculty and staff are prepared to implement our Real Industry: Career Discovery program on their campus. Faculty have developed a strong set of resources. Faculty rapidly gain professional networks, corporate connections, and context for educating students on career discovery.

Stage 2: Inspiration.

Hypothesis: Students struggle to learn the roles, career paths, jobs, or companies in our industry.

Deliverable: At each partner campus, hackathons and mini-design challenges are held in the Fall. Similar to our well-known Design Challenges, these smaller (e.g. 3-4 hour), more one-on-one faculty-led challenges raise awareness and excitement about career roles in the arts and tech industry (media technology, consumer electronics, music/media business). Students learn about careers in industry through experiential design sprints to outline their ideas.

Takeaway: This Industry exists! It’s exciting! Here are the people, companies, and roles to prove it. You can do this!

Stage 3: Access.

Hypothesis: Students do not have access to mentors and role models, to explore and prepare for careers.

Deliverable: Students are introduced to a diverse group of 400+ companies, mentors, and career roles to choose from over the next 9 months. Students are coached by Real Industry and mentors on how to hold informational interviews, professional communications, and create value from a mentor relationship. Students work with their mentors to act on their insights and research career paths in industry. 

Takeaway: Students feel comfortable seeking help, forming professional relationships, and gaining access to industry resources. The University builds networks with companies and industry leaders. Real Industry reinforces its mentorship models and student/mentor training based on everyone’s feedback.

Stage 4: Experience. (Via Projects)

Hypothesis: Students lack real-world experience and are unable to translate their in-school learnings to professional needs.

Deliverable: All students having completed Stage 2 are eligible to select and work with their mentors to complete at least 1 project from dozens of well-known companies. Students may elect to try multiple ones. A mini is a discrete and supervised 5-20 hour real-world project, provided by an employee working in a top company. e.g. A YouTube-themed marketing challenge with one mentor (working at YouTube) supporting 6 students undertaking the challenge —one student at each university.

Before starting out, students are given advice and coaching on professional communication skills and coaching on how to best work with their new mentors. Students work individually on projects. They are guided, supervised, and coached to complete a small project that they can share on their resumes! 

Future years: each mentor brings in at least 1 new person; also, we ask companies to provide them as a way to support us (hey, we need 10 people).

Takeaway: Students gain invaluable real-world experience, demonstrable projects for their portfolios/resumes, gain confidence, and learn how to receive feedback and guidance from industry. Universities gain a larger list of potential employers, making them more effective in placing students and more attractive to applicants. Employers gain insight into potential top performing talent. Real Industry gains insight into areas that students struggle with, including technical and professional skills, and will reinforce our programs and share learnings with faculty.

Stage 5: Internships and Beyond.

Deliverable: Internships can be a great way for students to experience new fields of interest and the challenges of professional duties. Although it is clear that internships can prime students for their post-college lives, many are unable to take advantage of traditional arrangements. As Goldie Blumenstyk wrote in the Chronicle for Higher Education: “What about the students whose life circumstances don't allow them the luxury of relocating for a cool opportunity or taking on the equivalent of a second job, not to mention the students who lack the connections to land one?”

Takeaway: Students gain the skills to network effectively and leverage their existing relationships to make more informed career decisions. Students learn about internship opportunities and explore the process of applying to internships and full-time jobs.

Why is this Career Discovery Program important?

Fewer than half (41%) of college students feel well-prepared for their future careers, according to a recent McGraw-Hill survey. When asked what would have made them feel more prepared, the largest percentage of students (51%) responded with “more internships and professional experiences.” The need for this is clear and abundant.

Students are often unaware of roles, day-to-day responsibilities, skill sets, and inner-workings of companies because of their limited experience in industry. In addition, some technology-oriented graduates lack "soft skills" such as teamwork, presentation, and communication. As a result, students make under-informed career decisions and face a steep learning curve in the workplace.

After conducting interviews with potential students about their current access, experience, and skill-set, we are confident there is a need and desire for our Career Discovery Program.

I would love this program. Opportunities like this are really hard to find. I don’t know where to start and don’t have the resources. I want to succeed and this would be really helpful. There are so many students struggling and they don’t know where to go...what we learn in school often has nothing to do with what we’re going to do in a job. We have a huge disadvantage because we have no one to guide us.
— Fabian, Class of 2020
Networking is the biggest issue that most students I know deal with. Students who have graduated in my major just don’t know where to start. There’s so much out there, but we don’t know how to make it ours.
— Crystal, Class of 2020
There is a lack of support for the creative industry compared to others, such as business. The value of this program seems clear.
— Brian, Class of 2020
I don’t feel like there is a lot on my campus to help with things outside of academics. I haven’t had any opportunities to speak with industry professionals. That’s why I signed up for a Real Industry design challenge at my school in the first place.
— Olfred, Class of 2020


What majors/ students would benefit from this program?

We aim to have tracks that will be relevant for students across multiple disciplines. Students studying at the intersection of arts, music, and technology will likely find a project that interests them. 

Do students have to apply to be part of the program?

No! Students who are interested can opt into a project that feels like a good fit to them.

How many students will be paired with each mentor?

We aim to keep these relationships intimate and as close to 1:1 as possible. We will cap the mentor to student ratio at 5:1