The LGBT Alumni hosted an event for Spectrum Monday night in Hughes Trigg. The topic? Life After SMU and how to deal with being open in the workforce.
SMU alumnus, current staff member in education research and moderator of the event, Harvey Luna, welcomed the 12 undergrad students to the panel. Students sat in the wheeled seats enthusiastically, jetting their hands into the air to ask the panelists the top questions on their mind.
- Chris Sanders, an MFA graduate student who is getting her master’s at SMU in fine art.
- Renly Huang, who got a master’s in business and works at a marketing firm as a business consultant.
- Eric Douglas, who works at a creative gaming company in Richardson.
All eyes were on the alumni as Luna asked the first question, how to be “out” at work?
The panelists sat back in their seats and looked at the ceiling, thinking of the best way to respond. Renly answered quickly and confidently. “Most of you will be surprised at how many will not judge you for who you are, but for how hard you work,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is all about your skills.”
“It also comes down to who is running the company,” Chris added. “You want to work for someone who is putting their money where their mouth is.” She explained this advice a little more by saying how you don’t want to work for a company that goes against your beliefs, you want to work for a company that believes in similar viewpoints as you. This alone will make your work experience that much better.
Eric’s advice to the students was little more sentimental. “One advantage to coming out to people at work is that when you feel safe to share something personal, they really do care,” he said.
Conversation between the three panelists continued as they kept adding more commentary after another would end their thought. Renly concluded the discussion to the question by saying, “you will feel different in the workplace, but you will not feel judged.”
The panel continued to talk more about business matters, how cover letters aren’t worth the time and effort, and how important it is to keep a strong social support system in the workplace.
“It’s very important to stay in contact with SMU as well,” Renly said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today if it wasn’t for their help. They were all very supportive of me.”
The panel reassured the hopeful students to never fear for a job no matter where they go after college.
“People will accept you,” Chris said. “We’re here, and we’re queer! And there are loving people in Dallas and anywhere you go.”