Career advice for the LGBT+ community

LGBTQ+ students on campus sipped root beer in Global Heritage Hall, and listened to advice on how to navigate their careers and identities.  

All students can participate in career week but the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) organized Queers, rootBeers & Careers to give the LGBTQ+ community on campus some advice on how to find their identities in the workplace.  

“The whole idea of this event was basically to invite our LGBT+ community here to hear from LGBT+ individuals who are already in the work field to give advice about what it is like to be a LGBT+ individual in their field,” Outreach Chair Madeline Leahy said.

Six panelists attended the event. According to Leahy, some of the people invited to the event to be panelists declined to attend the event because they were worried about being outed at work.

Luckily, the panelists who did attend the event were not putting their careers in danger by participating.

“No one has ever batted their eye at me when I say my girlfriend, then fiancé, then wife,” panelist and RWU alum Samantha Kowlaski said. “I have never hidden who I am from any of my employers. That being said, I do not lead with that. That is part of who I am but that is not the only reason why I am so awesome.”

Kowlaski cannot remember any time at her place of work where she has experienced any discrimination based on her sexuality. Others have experienced some negativity in their workplace but are still able to have satisfying careers.  

Even if they are open in their places of work, they still have to navigate how to present their sexuality in public.

 Tim Pranaitis, panelist and RWU alum, recounted how he and his husband navigate being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in public. Because his husband has reached a certain level of success, he often says, “I am who I am, and if you don’t want to use our company, then it’s your loss.”

Of course, a successful career should not be something that members of the LGBTQ+ community have to achieve in order to have protection against discrimination. But until these protections are guaranteed, SAGA will continue to host events like this one.