Gloria is currently a junior majoring in Business Administration. Last month, Gloria had the opportunity to travel to New York for Out for Undergraduate Business Conference (OUBC). This is an annual conference that is open for undergraduate LGBT students in the fall to help them develop strategies for managing and leveraging their identity in the workplace. Read about Gloria’s experience being out for this conference.
How did you hear about this conference and what makes it different from other business conferences?
I heard about this conference from a friend who went his freshman year and he said he had such a good experience. I clicked on the link he provided on his Facebook newsfeed and it looked really intriguing because it is a conference intended solely for participants who identify as LGBT. Allies are actually encouraged not to attend because some of the programming may not be as relevant to them such as struggles that you might face in the workplace or expressing your gender. What struck me as unique about it is the emphasis on community building and the conference addressed issues specific to the LGBT community.
What was your most memorable experience about the conference?
On a minor scale, I thought just meeting everyone at the conference was memorable because I could hear about their background and their experience as LGBT in pursuing high profile careers in business. I think my most memorable experience comes from attending the career fair because each of the recruiters, or the majority of them, identified as LGBT so it was really interesting to have this career fair where almost everyone is LGBT-identified so you don’t have reservations asking about LGBT issues at work. You would already know that the companies there are accepting enough to be willing to spend thousands of dollars to sponsor these conferences. I think just being able to network where everyone was LGBT was very interesting to me because usually it would be something that I would bring up to set myself apart but everyone there was queer and it was really fun. It wasn’t as nerve-wrecking as most career fairs are.
What were you able to take away from this experience that will help you in your future endeavors?
I know that one thing I got out of this was empowerment. I think coming back from the conference, I was really excited to be out, be visible, and inspire others to come out as well and be able to pursue the careers with their LGBT identity fully visible. What was great about the conference was the focus on leadership and even if you aren’t a leader in your LGBT community on campus, you can still incorporate your leadership skills into different activities in an LGBT lens. For example, as an RA, you can do LGBT-specific programming. You may not be part of the LGBT group but you can still help this way. It is inspirational to achieve some of these things because I know it can be done. I met all of these great LGBT people who are in high ranking positions. One of the keynote speakers was a transgender woman and she managed like 80 billion portfolios and grew it to 160 billion. I didn’t even know that a transgender woman managed so much money, managed to be in such a high ranking position and be completely out. It was really amazing and very inspirational. It did come with some setbacks; some clients refused to work with her because of her identity. Still, the message was that you can do this not in spite of being LGBT but because you are LGBT.
Would you recommend this conference to other LGBTQ-identified students and if so, how would they benefit from attending this conference?
I would recommend this to everyone even if they are not interested in business. It can benefit others and improve their sense of community and connectedness to the LGBT community and also improve their professional skills such as networking and case interviewing. It also enhances professional image via workshops and it allows people to explore career options. I think the reason why this conference was beneficial to everyone is that it had something for everyone to learn and everyone left with a stronger sense of community and skills. I personally feel much more connected to my queer family and I think I got a lot done in networking. Most of all, I definitely know that I want to pursue consulting which is nice for me to have the knowledge that I can do it especially because I am LGBT. I can bring in a whole new perspective and employers love diversity.
Gloria is currently involved with ResED (Residential Education) as a Residential Adviser and has been involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly.