The Boston University Alumni Association, LGBTQ Alumni Network and BUBQ, BU’s united coalition of LGBTQ individuals and allies, will hold the first panel of its kind Thursday to address the trials and challenges of queer individuals navigating the professional landscape.
“It’s important to work for an organization that is accepting of all creeds,” said BU Alumni Association Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kirsten Lundeen. “There is no question to me that a place like Boston University is very supportive and inclusive of its community, but I also recognize not all industries or companies follow suit.”
The event, titled Out in the Workplace: Navigating Professional Landscapes for LGBTQ+ Individuals and Allies, features BU School of Law alumnus Daniel Levin, College of Arts and Sciences alumna Sarah Merriman and CAS alum Shane Morgan as panelists. The panel will be moderated by Patricia Antonelli, Associate Director of Counseling at BU’s Center for Career Development.
The plan to hold the panel stemmed from a conversation she had with a BU alumna who was struggling to find a job after graduating, Lundeen said.
“We were talking about her work history and professional identity as an LGBTQ+ individual, and it got us talking about whether gender and sexuality should or do play a role in the professional landscape, both in hiring and day-to-day office environments,” Lundeen said.
Lundeen said she hopes attendees will gain practical advice as to how identifying as an LGBTQ individual works in the job market.
Levin, an LLP associate at Ropes and Gray, said he hopes those who attend the event will be able to learn from the experiences of the panel members and gain insight into the different fields in which each panelist is employed.
“Alumni involvement and engagement was very important to me when I was at BU Law and was tremendously helpful to me in finding my professional footing,” Levin said. “As an alumnus I’m glad to pay that favor forward by sharing my experiences with current students.”
While at BU, Levin was an active member of BU OutLaw, the School of Law’s student group for LGBTQ individuals. Levin has continued to act as a liaison between BU OutLaw and the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, where he serves as a member of the board of directors.
“I have been very fortunate to work in a place where diversity is both celebrated and sought after,” Levin said. “Being a part of a diverse workplace makes being open very easy. That said, being gay in the workplace is something that I’m still aware of even though it hasn’t been an issue and it will always come with the territory of having traits that are different from others.”
Levin advised LGBTQ students to be open and honest with employers about their identities.
“If you feel like being open and honest about who you are on your resume or in an interview will sabotage your chances at a particular place, then consider whether you really want to work there,” he said.
It’s important to provide a safe space at BU to discuss professional opportunities for LGBTQ individuals, Lundeen said.
“Our nation is going through a major perception shift right now in how accepting and inclusive we are with LGBTQ+ relationships,” Lundeen said. “The dialogue has been dominated by gay marriage, but the shift in perception absolutely transcends into the professional landscape, so it’s important we have the conversations there too.”
The event, free for BU students and $10 for alumni, will be held in the Photonics Center at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.