About the Start Conference

The START Conference celebrates its 25th Anniversary on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow (START)

Logo for START Conference.

This one-day conference focuses on business initiatives in diversity by gathering corporate, academic, and community speakers. Conference participants gain knowledge and information about issues regarding diversity, awareness, respect for oneself and others. Students have the opportunity to network with corporate representatives, explore career paths, and gain insight into the corporate climate of presenting companies.

START History

In 1999, a group of Penn State business students recognized  the need for open dialogue with professional and corporate leaders in order to create a productive and respectful work environment.

In response, these students created the START (Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow) Conference with the support of the Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs in the Smeal College of Business.

Since its inception, the START Conference has grown to become a Smeal tradition, attracting partnerships with some of today's leading companies, such as Altria, Boeing, Deloitte, EY, Hilton, Johnson & Johnson, Kohl's, KPMG and more.

A Competitive Advantage

The START Conference provides Penn State students a competitive advantage through workshops on:

  • Corporate Culture
  • Leadership skills to manage a diverse workforce
  • Skill sets and tools to succeed in a corporate environment
  • Insight into diversity initiatives in the corporate world

Previous Session Topics

  •  Telling Your Story-Winning the Job During Recruiting Season
  • "Affirmative Action Practices & Policies" Gus Colangelo, Penn State
  • "Women and Flexibility - Can You Have it All?" Toni Riccardi, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • "Diversity Leadership in Middle Management" Ed Williams, Kimberly-Clark
  • “Generational Differences in the Workplace: The New Corporate Landscape and What it Means for Younger Workers” Barbara Filler and Jocelyn Price, Boeing
  • “Managing the Transition from School to Work” Nengi Kurkurbo, General Electric
  • "A Business Case for Diversity" Jennifer Hunt, IBM
  • "Minding Your Own Business: Women Entrepreneur Presentation" Christina Mulroy, Northwestern Mutual