What began last year as a mentorship program between undergraduates and students at Harvard Business School has evolved into the Harvard Undergraduate BGLTQ Business Society, an organization specifically devoted to exposing BGLTQ students on campus to job opportunities in the business sector.
As hundreds of undergraduates participate each year in Harvard’s On-Campus Interview Program, HUBBS is one effort working to increase BGLTQ participation in such recruiting programs. And it is part of a growing trend: Increased efforts to expose BGLTQ-identified students at Harvard to business and corporate careers this year from student organizations and the Office of Career Services have been embraced by students and companies alike, although some BGLTQ undergraduates add that they face challenges acclimating to work in the business sector.
Students nationwide and at Harvard have made recent efforts to increase business recruiting and career opportunities for BGLTQ undergraduates. Several years ago, in 2004, a business conference was founded called Out for Undergrad, which aimed to increase BGLTQ students’ representation in the business sector. This year, Out for Undergrad will expand to offer conferences to undergraduates in four sectors—business, technology, engineering, and marketing.
According to Brandon Fail ’03, Out for Undergrad’s executive director, the conference today tries to help “[get] the message out” that companies are interested in recruiting BGLTQ undergraduates “in time to affect their recruiting decisions and career choices.”
“It’s so valuable to connect students with real, live professionals inside key industries early on,” he wrote in an email.
At Harvard, some groups seek to mitigate what members describe as some students’ impression that business is not welcoming to BGLTQ people by expanding student exposure to business careers, including finance, consulting, and technology.
Born out of the idea of obtaining corporate sponsorship for student activities, the student-run HUBBS, which grew out of a committee in the Queer Students and Allies, split off to begin programming and mentorship programs centered on giving undergraduate students the tools to enter business careers. Organizers approached the Office of Career Services when forming the group.
According to HUBBS founder and co-president W. Powell Eddins ’16, the group has grown “exponentially,” with about 70 students now involved in the organization. Eddins characterized HUBBS’ efforts as highly successful; the organization raised more than $5,000 in its first year, according to Eddins.
HUBBS currently has sponsors ranging from technology companies to consulting firms, including Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft, among others. The Office of Career Services, meanwhile, has partnered with the group to host events.
According to Dylan MarcAurele ’16, co-president of HUBBS and treasurer of the Queer Students and Allies, the events HUBBS organizes with business partners help expose students to what job opportunities exist.
“I know so many people in [HUBBS] that have become so much more confident with their identities and the processes of interviewing and getting internships and networking,” he said.
IN THE WORKPLACE
Students involved in organizing BGLTQ recruiting resources say businesses have been receptive to their efforts. Fail, for his part, wrote that a “hot topic among recruiters and professionals alike these days is how companies can do a better job of attracting and retaining members” of diverse groups including “female students, trans students, and LGBT students of color.”