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Zoom panel shares tips for navigating networking, job searching for LGBTQ+ individuals

| Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Monday, the Gender Relations Center (GRC) hosted an informative Zoom session for LGBTQ+ individuals seeking more information and advice on entering and navigating the workforce.

A panel began by sharing their experiences and various suggestions for job research and the application process. The session concluded with audience-generated questions answered by the panel.

The panel featured GRC program coordinator and 2019 Notre Dame graduate Deborah Bineza, former PrismND president and 2018 graduate Baylea Williams, 2020 graduate and former GRC employee Henry Ridder, Meruelo Family Center for Career Development career inclusion specialist Deirdre Dolan and Notre Dame Alumni Association associate director of professional and academic programs Sharon Keane. Senior and  program assistant for sexual identity at the GRC Lan Anh Dinh moderated the panel.

Keane started the session by sharing her screen and showing participants how to navigate the IrishCompass tool which connects alumni and current students. Keane said there are currently 23,000 members, including 16,000 alumni on the site. She provided directions for students to easily connect their LinkedIn profiles and begin connecting with professionals in their intended fields.

Keane instructed attendees to “use the filters to identify people who could be in the strongest position to help you.”

She also responded to a question concerning how to draft an introductory email to an alumni on IrishCompass by suggesting students utilize the automatic template generated by the website and then personalizing the message.

“Be confident reaching out to alumni,” Keane said. “Be as personal and specific as you can.”

Keane also told students that they should recognize the alumni on IrishCompass signed up specifically to help students. Even so, she told attendees not to be discouraged if they don’t receive an immediate response, as alumni often have hectic schedules.

To further discuss the topic of job research, Dolan shared tips for learning more about employers’ diversity and inclusion.

“Make sure your own employer shares your values,” Dolan said. “If you have that alignment, it leads to career satisfaction.”

In order to discover this career alignment, Dolan recommends viewing the career center’s interactive Diversity and Inclusion Showcase Book. 

Maggie Eastland | The Observer

The panel also shared helpful conferences and groups that LGBTQ+ students can tap into for networking. Henry Ridder mentioned the Out for Undergrad conferences, which offer events and programming for four different career paths: business, engineering, marketing and tech. He also referenced Out Professionals, an LGBTQ+ networking organization, as a helpful resource for those who aren’t undergraduate students. The ROMBA Conference is yet another resource for LGBTQ+ business students.

The panel discussed how to professionally incorporate students’ LGBTQ+ identities in a job application and how to find companies committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Williams shared her career journey as she switched jobs, originally working for Proctor & Gamble, a company Williams said emphasized inclusivity, to a machine tooling company in Kentucky that didn’t promote that value as prominently. Williams said she included her leadership role at PrismND both on her resumes in her job interviews. However, she noted that she was more insecure about the decision when she switched to her new job.

Williams said that if your LGBTQ+ identity connects to a leadership role, it should be an important part of your resume, and it is a great talking point during interviews.

“The important part is knowing what you’re getting into and knowing your audience,” Williams said. “It’s all about your personal comfort zone.”

Ridder who currently works for Anheuser-Busch, echoed Williams’s conclusion.

“Definitely look at the company’s culture,” Ridder said. “Do a little research about them so you have the confidence in putting [your LGBTQ+ identity] on your resume.”

Ridder also said students should learn about company policies and actions regarding inclusivity and diversity.

“Look for actual steps the company has taken, not just a statement that they are inclusive,” Ridder said.

Ridder suggested looking at parental leave, adoption and surrogacy benefits in addition to employee resource groups.

One question Ridder suggested individuals should ask what a company is doing to foster a welcoming environment for diverse individuals.

Ridder said this question forces employers to consider tangible steps they’ve taken to encourage diversity and give interviewees a description of the positives and negatives of diversity at their company.

“You should view this aspect of your identify as a strong suit,” Ridder said. “Understand that it’s something that makes you stand out in a good way.”

This fall, the career center coordinated a virtual diversity and inclusion networking event before the fall virtual career fair. Dolan said she hopes a similar event featuring company representatives who can speak to diversity and inclusion will occur before the upcoming winter career fair.

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