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Networking advice for young minorities

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Students at New York University graduation
New York University graduates celebrated during commencement ceremonies in 2007.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

As members of minority groups leave the academic world and try to enter a professional work environment, they face unique challenges.

Chris Farrell, economics editor of Marketplace Money, said on The Daily Circuit last month that networking is key to finding a good job. But one caller asked about the lack of professional networking opportunities for young minorities, and suggested a show on that topic.

David Thomas, author of "Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America," wrote in the Harvard Business Review about companies putting a focus on diversity but failing to follow through:

Despite the best intentions, though, many organizations have failed to achieve racial balance within their executive teams. Some have revolving doors for talented minorities, recruiting the best and brightest only to see them leave, frustrated and even angered by the barriers they encounter. Other companies are able to retain high-potential professionals of color only to have them become mired in middle management. Still others have minorities in their executive ranks, but only in racialized positions, such as those dealing with community relations, equal employment opportunity, or ethnic markets.

Job fair
Unemployed people talked with a prospective employer during a job fair in Los Angeles in 2009.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Kecia Thomas, author of "Diversity Dynamics in the Workplace," wrote about mentoring as a key to minority success in professional environments. "Mentoring relationships provide critical personal and professional development opportunities throughout one's career," she observed. "These relationships are especially important for racial minorities who often lack access to informal networks and information that is required to be successful in academic and professional environments in which they are under-represented."